If you were a teen in the early 2000s, chances are you’re familiar with Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life, a driving rock anthem celebrating human autonomy. The song reached #33 in the US charts, #5 in Australia and #1 across Europe, but apparently the song is still a feature of Bon Jovi’s concerts even to this day. I heard the song again recently and while “glam metal” or “hard rock” is not my preferred style, the chorus is actually kinda catchy and the song got me thinking: whose life is it anyway?
The music video features thousands of adoring fans singing in unison with Mr Bon Jovi:
It’s my life
And it’s now or never
‘Cause I ain’t gonna live forever….
I just want to live while I’m alive
‘Cause it’s my life!
In the music video, a teen escapes his parents house and obligations, to live a life on the edge as he runs towards the concert to join in the Bon Jovi song, the song of self-autonomy, while he has the chance. The desire to live his life comes from the realisation with Mr Bon Jovi, that he ‘ain’t gonna live forever’. If you aren’t going to live forever, it really is now or never. Do what you want to (or have to) do right now! Why muck around? It’s your life to live!
And that is the perfectly logical conclusion.
If there is no god.
Of course, if there is actually a god that made the universe, then the universe and everything in it would belong to that god. That life-sustaining oxygen you’re breathing right now? God’s. The chemicals in the food you ate for breakfast which keep you going through the day? God’s. The electrons powering your reading device? God’s. You too would belong to that god, and you would be relying on everything the god had made to sustain you, despite everything you do to ignore the god.
And what’s more, as the creator of the universe, that god would be the rightful ruler of it. That god would have some claim over your life, perhaps placing certain moral obligations on you. It would not be within puny human power to actually wrest control of the universe from an supernatural, all-powerful god; even if we tried to run the place ourselves, we would only be deceiving ourselves for a short while that we are actually in control. (How are we going with that?)
So what then? Christianity claims that there is a God who caused the universe to come into being and has revealed himself in and through Jesus of Nazareth whose life, death and resurrection accomplishes reconciliation between wayward creatures and their creator. Salvation is, from beginning to end, a gift of God’s unmerited favour, given in spite of everything we do to reject his loving rule and to live for ourselves. The gift is transformative, bearing fruit in sacrficial love for others so that we no longer live for ourselves but for God. And finally, it comes with the promise of eternal life with the Creator, who loves you and knows you better than you know yourself.
So Mr Bon Jovi: It’s not now or never. It’s now and forever. Now is the time to ask yourself whether it really is your life. Because forever awaits.