Family Ministry Today

The Center for Christian Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

You Only Live Once?

by Derek Brown – May 31

“YOLO,” an acronym popular with pre-teens, teens, and young adults, stands for, ”You Only Live Once.”  Usually, you can find it attached to a hashtag (#YOLO) at the end of a Twitter post that boasts of one’s participation in an adventure of enviable proportions.  Often, it is offered as a justification for one’s involvement in some questionable activity.  Either way, it’s used to express the idea that one should live life to the fullest because, well, “you only live once.”  Of course, what it means to live life to the fullest varies from one person to the next. Rarely, I presume, is it used to promote godly self-control and a passion for the gospel.

Nick Dano, writing at Gospel Centered Discipleship, provides a thoughtful and timely article that considers how this catchy little phrase undermines the truth of Scripture about the meaning of life and our stewardship of it.  I commend this article to parents so that they might be equipped to counter the subtle effects that #YOLO will inevitably have their children.

A common phrase used among people my age is: YOLO or You Only Live Once. This is a term that encourages people to live life to the fullest and without limitations. It’s particularly popular among teens and young adults. YOLO captures the thinking and philosophy of the American young person. It focuses on oneself and offers an answer to Aristotle’s ancient question: How ought a man live his life?


Is this life all there is or is there more? I think it’s important for us to look at how the gospel defines life compared to how the world would define it. The world says: there is no certainty of afterlife. However, there is the certainty we are all going to die, and so we’d better enjoy life while we still can. This worldview sees life as merely natural. There is little or no spirituality involved and almost certainly nothing about eternity. The believer looks at life and its end differently. James, in his epistle, says: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14). James reminds us of just how small and insignificant we are. That our lives are an eye blink in the depths of eternity. Whereas the world sees the time we have here on earth as the highlight of our existence and should be focused on our own happiness. This worldview goes beyond pleasure seeking. W e have the right to make our choices and we have the right to fullfil ourselves. What we chose is best. Our culture is on a search for ultimate satisfaction. And this ongoing pursuit of pleasures is proof that we still haven’t found what we are looking for. Augustine said it best: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in [God].” To the believer, life isn’t only something to be enjoyed here on the earth but is eternal. Jesus said it himself: “He came to give us life that we may have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Life is a gift for today and forever.

 Read the whole article here.