Study Guide: Two Kinds of Life

Sunday April 28, 2013 | Shane Hipps

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus tells us to hate our life in order to keep it, and if we love our life, we’ll lose it. Guest speaker Shane Hipps shares with us what life Jesus wants for us. He also talks about his personal experience with the Anabaptist tradition.

Extended Summary:

In John 12:25, Jesus is making a distinction between two different kinds of life. The first kind of life comes from the Greek word Psyche. Psyche refers to the things that happen in your life; to the ever changing circumstances such as our job, living situation, stress, and problems. The second kind of life, Zoe, refers to a deeper and more stable kind of life.

To explain it in different terms, Psyche is the clouds while Zoe is the sky. While the clouds change, the sky stays the same. If Zoe is the ocean, Psyche is the waves and surface of the sea. While the top of the seas toss and turn based on the circumstances, the depths of the ocean have a cocoon-like quality to them. If Zoe is the sun then Psyche is a picture of the sun. If we look at the picture expecting warmth, we will surely be disappointed.

Whenever we run into the word Zoe in the New Testament, we often find the word eternal before it. Zoe has a quality of being outside of time. In Western thought, we usually think of eternal as the thing that happens after we die. It stretches on forever and ever. But it means much more than that. We experience eternal things all the time. When we have a phone conversation that seems to fly by, we experience that outside of time. When we get a phone call from a doctor and wait for the results, we experience that time as much slower than normal. It is outside of time; Zoe.

Jesus is calling us to let go of our Psyche in order to gain Zoe. We often look to the Psyche kind of life to be our foundation. If only we can get that job we want or have that one circumstance change, then we can have peace in this life. But Jesus is telling us to look beyond our circumstances for the stable life. The kind of life that Jesus offers can’t be found in our circumstances. Rather, it is the eternal life that doesn’t change and is full of joy and beauty despite our circumstances. And it is available from the day we are born and not the day we die.

Shane shared a story where he was very stressed about his future and was feeling anxious. His father asked if he could pray for him. After a few moments, Shane started crying and felt a release from the burdens. It felt like everything changed, but nothing had changed. Shane just finally tapped into the Zoe life that Jesus wanted for him.

The trick to having the Zoe life is practice. It may start out difficult, but connecting with Zoe by surrendering your old life needs to be a habitual practice. God wants you to connect with him and his joy despite circumstances. He wants us to put him first and everything else second, not because he’s egocentric, but because it is better for us to do so. He wants us to find warmth from the sun and not from a picture of a sun. He wants us to feel the calm of the depths of the ocean and not be tossed about by the wind. God wants us to have Zoe.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Was the idea of eternal life, as the life you are living in Christ right now, a new idea to you? How has this idea of eternal life affected you, whether it is a new or old idea?
  2. Discuss what things in your life you do that cause time to fade into the background? What do you enjoy that connects you to a Zoe life?
  3. Name a chaotic storm in your life right now and then think of what, in your Psyche life, you need to submit, in order to allow your Zoe life to become your reality.
  4. List any things in your Psyche life that you have let come before God.
  5. Think of how your life has been transformed because you have laid your life troubles at the feet of Jesus.