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How to "Enter Into Life"

Fr. Luke A. Veronis

“If you want to enter into life, keep God’s commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)

Think about this comment Jesus offered to the rich young ruler who approached him. “If you want to ENTER INTO LIFE, keep God’s commandments.”

What type of life is Jesus talking about? Our “everyday existence” life? A normal life, filled with the typical challenges and joys, struggles and successes? A fun life? A rich life? A successful life? Or is he talking about something more, something different, something more meaningful? There are many paths to take in life, yet our Creator knows what will make His children most happy, most fulfilled, most blessed. And He knows what path will lead to a life that will never end. Eternal life!

God gave humanity freedom, and we can use our free will for whatever we want. God won’t force us down any specific path. Yet, He offers us guidance on how to find the right path that will lead to the deepest meaning and the greatest contentment of life!

When the rich young man asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” maybe he was only thinking only about the end of his life. Yet our Lord doesn’t focus simply on the end, but on the path itself. For Christ, eternal life isn’t a destination we reach at the end of a long journey, but a discovery of how to live each and every day in the presence of the Eternal One. We experience eternal life by uniting with the Eternal One, and this happens by how we choose to live life here and now.

“If you want to enter into life, keep God’s commandments.”

Experiencing life the way God meant life to be lived only happens when we learn that His commandments are a guide to help us on our journey. Some people think of God’s commandments as a burden that limits our pleasures and desires. They look at God’s commandments in a negative way. “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” Yet, God’s commandments are not there to take away life’s greatest pleasures, but in fact, they are there to show us that path that will lead to life’s greatest delight! Life the way our Creator desires humanity to experience it is a life lived in constant communion with Him. Imagine dwelling in continual communion with the Source of love, the Source of peace, the Source of joy! What can be more beautiful than to live a life fulfilling the potential that God has given each one of us, helping us to become one with Him, united to Him, having His Spirit dwelling within us!

“If you want to enter into life, keep God’s commandments.”

The difficulty of this path is that it seems confusing, paradoxical, and therefore uncertain. Jesus says, “Deny yourself” and through such denial we will discover our true self. Christ advises to “walk the narrow and difficult path” yet we see so many walking the wide and easy path, and we are tempted. Our Lord tells us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” yet our fallen instincts tell us to gather more and more. The commandments of God guide us away from our ego, and towards our neighbor, the “other,” even our enemy. This does not come easy to our fallen nature. His commandments are not so simple to understand, no less to follow, but we must realize that the Creator knows better than His creation what will make us most happy in life. His path may seem confusing and even hard, yet it is the path that leads to life!

“If you want to enter into life, keep God’s commandments.”

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery, God was ready to have a new relationship with the Hebrews. He told them, “I will be your God, and you will be my people” but let me show you how you are to live as my children. If you want to walk with me, and be my chosen people, [if you want to enter into life!] you have to be careful with the choices you make. Will you follow my blueprint for how to live, or will you simply listen to the world around you and accept its way of life? If you truly want Me to be your God, and you my people, here are my guidelines on how to live:

  • Remember, there is only one God, and I alone am to be worshipped. (Do we place God at the center of our lives, at the center of our daily living?)
  • Don’t create or allow any idols (ideologies, people, hobbies, or anything) to replace Me as the one true God in your life
  • Don’t ever carelessly misuse my name, the name of the Lord, but always speak my name with reverence and love
  • Keep the Sabbath day, one special day out of seven, holy, different, separate than all the other days (and of course, for us Christians, this Sabbath is Sunday, the Day of the Lord and the Day of His Resurrection)
  • Honor and respect your father and mother
  • Do not steal (whether we take what is not ours, or do not act as good stewards and don’t give generously to others from the blessings that God has given us)
  • Do not kill (or hold any anger or hatred or bitterness towards anyone in your heart)
  • Do not lie
  • Do not commit adultery (or lust or desire after any other person outside of your spouse)
  • Do not covet other people and their possessions (despite our American spirit of always wanting to keep up with the rich and famous, having the best, the newest, more and more, and never learning to be content)

These commandments do not hinder our lives, but will help us discover a life to the fullest. Jesus basically told the rich young man if you want to live life, live with two fundamental principles guiding your life – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, and with all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. We love God by never forgetting Him or replacing Him with anyone or anything else. Although our society bombards us with so many temptations and so many things pull us away from God, His Commandments remind us to keep God at the center of our lives, and with our love for God comes a natural love for others.

This is the path that leads to life – to a meaningful, fulfilled, blessed life. This is the way that will guide us to an eternal life with God. It is not easy. In fact, it may even seem impossible at times. Yet, when Christ’s disciples seemed bewildered by these words, Jesus reminded them, “What seems impossible for men, is possible with God’s help.” 

“If you want to enter into life, keep God’s commandments.”