Jump Start # 1816
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
The abundant life. We just completed a series at my home congregation based upon this passage. It revolved around our theme for the year, “Life, the way it was meant to be.” For a dozen weeks we have looked in detail at just what Christianity looks like. It’s more than just sitting in a church building on Sunday. Everywhere we go, we are Christians. We never turn it off. It is never out of place. It affects our choices. It affects how we use our money. It is seen in what we do for fun. It is illustrated by what we do at home. It changes how we view death.
Before the first sin, God made Adam and Eve in the garden. It was called Paradise. They had a rich relationship with the Lord. This was not a place that they found Googling. This was a home, an environment and a world designed specifically for them by God. This is how God wanted it to be. Sin changed all of that. Because of sin, man lost the ideal that God created. Because of sin, man settled for other things. He opted for easier and cheaper alternatives than what God offered. And here we are. Most of us are not living life the way it was meant to be. We are plagued with worry. We are miserable. We complain. We fuss and fight at home, in traffic and at work. We want, but we are not sure what we want. We don’t know contentment. Church services become a form of spiritual spankings to remind us how bad we are. Days quickly turn into weeks, which become months and then years fly by. We are so busy that we don’t have time for meaningful relationships. Our social skills have fallen to a few abbreviated text messages throughout the day.
One must wonder, “Is this it?” Or, “Is this as good as it gets?” Are we living as God intended? Jesus not only came to give live, but He came to give it abundantly. Eternal life—living forever, is not found in medical science but in a promise of God. To live, really live, is not to escape responsibilities of life. It is not to live without rules. It’s not to live dangerously or foolishly. It is to live in Christ Jesus. Eternal life is found in Christ. He is the resurrection and the life. I am Life—stated in John 11 and in John 14. Anything other than this, will never be the life that God intended for you to live. To say, “I am a man but God intended for me to be a woman,” is foolish and without any Biblical basis. To say, “God may me Homosexual,” is foolish and without any Biblical basis. Life the way it was meant to be, is never going to be found in ignoring what God says. It’s not gong to be found in living selfishly or indifferently, especially to the Lord.
Life, the way it was meant to be, is a life of spiritual choices. It is not settling for the quick and easy. It is seeing the big picture. It is looking at things spiritually. It is reflected in decisions that look at consequences, faith, and eternity. Our choices shape the life that we life.
So, we begin with the question that every senior in high school is asked, “What do you want to do after high school?” That’s a tough question for an 18 year-old. Many want to just play video games. They haven’t thought about all those deep things. Making money is high on the list. Make money so I can buy stuff. And so the student is guided into fields that produce money. His passion may not be in those things, but he has been told that’s where the money is. If he can play sports, he’s pushed that direction. College ball. Pro ball. Super star. MVP. Proud dads standing beside these young athletes often signing their names to the devil as a life of ungodliness, immorality and obscene arrogance surrounds the superstar. Where’s God in these decisions? Like Lot, long ago, the fields near Sodom look good. He lost a wife and his daughters made wrong choices. The fields were good for his livestock but terrible for his soul. Peter tells us that Lot’s righteous soul was vexed every day by the things he saw and heard. Will that be your son or daughter in a college dorm? Will their soul be vexed by what they see and hear or will they not be bothered at all? Will they be a part of that?
Next, comes the important decision of who they date and later who they marry. “He’s a good guy,” does not describe high spiritual fiber. He may be good with fixing the car. He may be good at making your daughter laugh. He may be good at making money. But will he join her on the spiritual journey to Heaven? Has there been any discussions, interest during the dating process? Will he be in bed on Sunday mornings as she tries to get the kids ready for church by herself? Will the kids beg to stay home like daddy does? Will he plead for your daughter not to go to church on Wednesday evenings? The marriage will never be as God intended it to be as long as one part of it does not follow Christ. He may be a good man until he dies, but it will never be what God wanted it to be.
Next, comes the decision of where we will live. So often, if the college choice was made without any thought to finding a thriving congregation, this decision will follow. The job may take you far away from God’s people. It may place you near some dying congregation that is so discouraging that you just give up. Oh, the house is fine. Big. Fancy. Newest stuff. Big TV. Lots of storage. But where’s God?
What happens next, living without God, things start to slip. Words are said that never were said before. Questionable things do not seem so questionable any more. Alcohol finds it’s way into the home and lifestyle. Happy. Busy. Lots of friends. But living without God.
One day, one of the parents die. You travel back home for the funeral. You decide to drop in to the church that was a part of your parents life. Oh, the memories it brings back. There are faces you still remember. The preaching is good. The singing warms your heart. There is something that you have long forgotten about, your soul. For a few days, you think about your parents choices in life. You think about where they are now, after they have died. You wonder about yourself. But, it’s back to your world. Your job calls you back. You jump back in and these pleasant memories are forgotten.
And one day, it’s your turn. Your death. Your are remembered by your kids. Your accomplishments are praised. You are missed as a good person. Your kids, having grown up without God, assume, that your journey has ended. You are gone. The End. But it’s not. There is never a “The End” to our story. To your horror, you learn that your parents were right. You learn too late, that just being good isn’t enough. You have lived without God and now, by your own choices, you will live forever without God.
All of this takes us back to the thought that God has a life that He wants you to live. Life, the way that it was meant to be, is a life that surrounds God. Every attitude. Every decision. Every choice. They are all made with thoughts of God and our relationship with Him. Will this person, will this job, will this town be such that helps me get closer to God or not?
Life, the way it was intended to be, is not without struggles, trials and pain. It is not without sin. We will sin. But, it is a life that bounces back. Instead of justifying the sin, it seeks the mercy of God and looks at why the wrong and cheap choice was made.
We can live better than what we are. We can do better than what we are doing.
Are you living your life the way that it was meant to be? Are you living your life the way God intended it to be? Why not?