Following on from a conversation I was having the other day, I have decided to blog about the following passage of scripture:
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b
I realise that taking part of a verse like this completely takes it out of its context, so I should probably just add that Jesus says this to the Pharisees when He is talking about Himself as a gate for the sheep – the idea being that people will follow Him because they recognise His voice.
My questions relate very specifically to this idea of having life to the full. In-particular, what does is mean to have life to the full? The Bible is very clear about the need for followers of Jesus to be unworldly. There are many passages I could quote here – let me name a few:
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2
“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases;
for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.
Though while he lived he counted himself blessed— and men praise you when you prosper” Psalm 49:16-18
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he, (Jesus) told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." 'But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' Luke 12:14-20
So I guess from these examples we can assume that ‘life in all its fullness’ does not necessarily mean a life filled with worldly possessions.
So what does it mean? That we can have life in all its fullness without having ‘stuff’. That God is enough in Himself to completely satisfy us and to give us a rich full life? So why do we crave stuff? Why can you be living your life for God – truly loving Him and yet feel that there is more, that you are missing something – or even more difficult to understand – that you are simply bored with your life?
I guess the only answer I can see to it is that these people aren’t being completely satisfied by God – most likely because they aren’t giving Him enough of themselves in the first place. Is that right? If so, how can this problem be solved? “Give God more of yourself” is not enough of an answer without there being some practical way of working that out in each person’s individual life. If someone is bored, how do they become not bored?
It makes me wonder whether the problem is really spiritual. For someone who is bored – can the answer to that be found in the world? If so how do you find it, and how does that then relate to the Bible passages earlier that say that ‘stuff’ is meaningless?
Additionally, I went to the commissioning of some new Salvation Army Officers at the weekend, and one persona testimony really made me think. She said that before she accepted Officership in the Salvation Army to be God’s call on her life and followed that call, there was something missing in her life. Now that she has followed her calling and found her vocation, she feels fulfilled. I am really pleased for her – don’t get me wrong, but I just wondered how long that would last? It’s easy to say when it’s all new and exciting, but is it really the thing that will satisfy her and allow her to feel that fulfilment for the rest of her life? For those that haven’t found that fulfilment then, is it all about searching for the thing that is going to fulfil you? Isn’t that what we say people are doing when they are searching for meaning in the bottom of a bottle, or in drugs etc. Don’t we say to them that they can find their fulfilment in God?
We talk about God being like the missing piece of a jigsaw – (the jigsaw representing life) but what about when someone has God and yet still feels like there is a missing piece? Does it go on and on until we are finally with Jesus forever – face to face, able to be in His complete presence?
I guess the questions boil down to one main point (as per usual!) if Jesus came to give life, and life in all its fullness, how does it then follow that some people who have given their lives to Him, given up stuff for Him, work hard for Him, and have a relationship with Him can still find themselves with lives that feel anything but full? What does He mean when He says, I came to give life, and life to the full?
I would like to finish with a disclaimer! I am not bored of life - anything but! In fact life is so full sometimes that my head thinks it might explode! Its more just that after a conversation, I realised that I really didn't fully understand this, so hoped that others might be able to help!