That they might have Life
Most, if not all of us, are familiar with Jesus’ words concerning why He has come. Of course we know it was for our salvation, but what I’m saying is, is that there’s more, there’s always more.
We all have heard His words telling us “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” in John 10:10, and we are thankful, but what I’m suggesting is that there’s more, there’s always more.
Although many of us remember the life we had before we were saved and are glad to be done with all of that, we err if and when we believe that now that we are saved, it is enough. It is indeed enough, on the one hand, but not nearly enough on the other.
What I mean is, look at what He’s said again and ask Him why did He say that “they (you and me) might have life…” and He didn’t stop speaking there, but went on to say that He came that you and me would “have it more (there’s always more) abundantly?” Once a person has life, how can a person have even more life?
Think with me here and recall those stories you’ve heard about a person who had actually died and miraculously came back to life. As you listen to them share their experience have you ever once heard them say that they are “glad to be alive, but I wish I was even more alive?” Neither have I. That’s what makes Jesus’ words so intriguing, so compelling and so alluring. What did He mean? What does He mean for us to hear today, right now, at this very moment?
With all due respect, we settle for so much less when we only contrast the life we had before Christ Jesus came to us with the way our life is now. Although it is sufficient reason to rejoice, shouldn’t we perhaps rethink some things? Especially now that we are hearing Him say again “have it more.” There’s always more, but what is there more of?
Many of us remember lives of sorrow, heartache and despair. Desperate to be loved we scoured our world searching for someone who would love us and soured our souls in the process as we drowned our sorrow, heartache and despair in alcohol, drugs or any of the other items the world stores in its medicine cabinet. Going from one lover to the next and one divorce to another which only added to our sorrow, heartache and despair, but then…
We heard somewhere that there was One who loved us as no one ever had and would always love us as no One else ever could and out of curiosity, we came. We came either to some church, a bible study or just happened to run into an old acquaintance who told us about this Jesus character, but then…
Something we’d never experienced before, something we’d never felt before happened as we listened to that sermon, that bible study or as we listened to our old friend, but this time there was something in the way they talked about God and Jesus that made it sound as if we could actually get to know Him, that we could really be loved by Him.
We are thirsty, but the only thing the world has to drink that offers a chance at love is a fully stocked liquor cabinet and an alcohol induced romance, so we came to Him for water. We are hungry, but the only thing we’d ever known was to fill our hearts and souls with the “meat offered to idols” so we would have the strength to once again go out and look for still another alcohol induced romance, so we came to Him for food, something of real substance.
Our hearts were carnivorous, and they still are. We need more and there’s always more, but for some reason no one’s telling us that. Well, Jesus is, again and I suggest we listen to Him this time. I know I need to.
Perhaps you’ve read, said or heard this verse a thousand times but, like me, you never stopped to really listen. Oh, you stopped long enough to hear, but you didn’t realize it was Him who was talking. Most of us listen to a preacher or teacher as one who has heard from God and has come on a particular Sunday to tell us what God said and although that is a good thing, there’s more. There’s always more.
If you’re like me, and chances are, you are. We’re satisfied with this new life, but I believe we make a mistake if we only enjoy it by contrasting it. If and when we reason that “all I’d ever known before was sorrow, heartache and despair, but now I’m happy, comfortable and Jesus loves me.” We’ve left those old feelings behind and now have the ones we’ve searched for, but we err when we say “I’m full, I have enough” and bible study becomes blasé, repetitious and boring, but the good feelings remain and we say to ourselves, “somehow I know there’s more, but no one’s telling me how to ‘get there’.” And we resign.
We resign ourselves to Sunday’s with God and an occasional Wednesday with Jesus and perhaps a Thursday with the Spirit, but there’s still this “itch” that we can’t seem to scratch. Somehow we know that the “have it more abundantly” is right there, we can see it, but we just can’t grab it. But, tell a person that they are a “worthless sinner saved by grace” and pretty soon you’ll have entire congregations who quit reaching at all.
It may be true that there is a “have it more abundantly”, we say to ourselves, but I don’t deserve it. My pastor seems to have “it”, the guy on TV seems to have”it”, but they deserve it so much more than I do. There’s more, there’s always more, but there’s no more for me. So we force ourselves to become content with the “going through the motions” and content ourselves that although life isn’t all that great, it must be a “God thing” because my life isn’t what it used to be either. There’s more, there’s always more.
By the way, your pastor doesn’t deserve anything at all besides a slow, painful death for the sins he’s committed. What he seems to have isn’t because he deserves it; if anything we have from God is deserved, then it’s been earned and God is no longer good. He’s an employer and “new life” is a paycheck. He’s good because we’ve been good? Where’s the grace in that? God forbid!
So far we’ve looked at the possibilities of this “have it more abundantly” from one perspective, but now it’s time to shift from first gear to overdrive. This is going to “get a little closer to home” so you may want to “take five” and regroup. If you take these words to heart, you need to be aware that your entire belief system will be shaken to the core and you may lose some very close friends in the process. But, there’s more. There’s always more.
We make a serious mistake if and when we believe we know what life is. Oh, sure, we know what we think we know, but look at His words again.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Why would Jesus say that He came to give us what we already have? Most of us think we already know what life is. Well, we may know it by our definition, but just the fact that Jesus said this should tell us that His definition is different than ours. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? If we already believe we know what life is and we are correct in our understanding about life, then His words would be meaningless. One of us is wrong. I’m pretty sure it’s “us.”
I’ve heard countless sermons, messages and at seminars, crusades and conventions the invitation to “Come to Jesus! He’ll change your life!” and on the face of it, it sounds pretty good. Problem is, it’s not true.
I’ve also heard people say that if “You come to Jesus, He’ll give you a better life.” The word “better” creates the illusion many of us live in. We are led to believe that now that “my life is better” then we conclude “this is the life Jesus came to give me.” And we are dangerously content. Jesus didn’t come to make any one’s life “better”, He came to give us “life.” Why would He come to give us what we already had? He came to give us what we didn’t have even to the millionth of a zillionth of one degree. We had no life, none, zip, zilch, zero. But, there’s more. There’s always more.
Most of us go to church for the worst possible reasons. We go there so we’ll feel better about ourselves. The sins of the previous week are weighing us down and we want to know once again that we’re forgiven. Jesus, the part-time Lord, will meet us there and after the last “amen” we go our way feeling better, feeling alive and as heart breaking as it is, for most of us, that’s enough.
Look with me at the opening words of Luke 15. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him.”
How different is this scene from our typical Sundays and Wednesdays? We may come to church, the “draw near”, but we come to church to hear a second hand message, yesterday’s “manna” or we come to hear about the preacher’s marvelous relationship with the Lord and wish we had one similar to his, but there’s more. You get it yet? There’s always more.
They, that is, the worst the world had to offer, drew near Him for one reason and one reason only and that was “to hear Him.” Only Him, just Him. The One who says “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
Before Christ, we knew only sorrow, heartache, despair and fear. Those are only feelings, but the hard part is, we are so accustomed to the world “revolving around us” that those feelings define us and determine who we are. The problem is we also believe that those feelings define life for us and because of that we further believe that “if my feelings would change then my life would change.” No, no, no, He didn’t come to change our feelings about life! We didn’t have life! Nothing even close to it.
Jesus did not come to give me a better life; He came to give me what I didn’t have. Before He came, many of us “had a religion” of some sort. There are many who are sitting in your church right now who have a religion, but aren’t any more alive than the day they were born. All they have are a heart beat, a lung full of air, food at home and some feelings, whether good or bad makes no matter and they have a religion. A set of beliefs that make them “feel” right with God. But, there’s more, there’s always more.
We have many things, but the one thing we don’t have is the one thing we need the most and that is life. Life by God’s definition. Any definition that differs from His is a lie.
Before Christ, we were happy, but the day came when we weren’t as happy as we thought and we went looking for something more. God has made us to know intuitively that there’s more, there’s always more. Then, we found this church and after a season there we began to reason that “these people are so happy” and I want what they have and sad to say, many churches tell us to “make them (the unsaved) want what you have.” But, all it takes for me to have “what they have” is for me to imitate their lifestyle and soon enough my feelings will change.
All that it takes to get either a crowd at an NFL game or a church on their feet in celebration are background music, a rousing speech or a thrilling run for the end-zone of life and soon enough folks are leaping, dancing and praising God or god, as the case may be. The lifestyle of the Christian can be so easily altered, but until those people are “altar-ed” the change is man made, unreal and a lie. It’s not life, but because it’s different from what we’ve known previously, it must be the life. No, it’s just different.
As you keep in mind that Jesus said “I am the life”, let’s take these words of His and move them over to John 10:10 and see how it reads then;
“I am come that they might have ME; and that they might have ME more abundantly.”
Well, why didn’t He just come right out and say one verse and then the other for us? Wouldn’t that have made it so much simpler for us? Why all the mystery? Why so many questions?
He didn’t come right out and say it was Himself who is “the life” because He does what any husband would do. He insists on it being a relationship.
My wife may know some things about me and I may know some things about her, but do I really know her? Does she really know me? Not at all. There’s more, there’s always more. It’s her love for me that keeps her wanting to know ME, not just things about me and it’s the “thrill of the hunt” that keeps her searching for me and it’s my delight when she does just that. Nothing delights me more than to know that she’s “looking for me.”
It will take a lifetime for her to get to know who I really am and it will take the same for me to get to know her, but when it’s all said and done I’ll have to admit that although I may know her better than any other, I still know there’s more. There’s always more. The marriage will suffer and it may even die if and when I believe that I know her and if and when she begins to believe that she knows me. At the very least, it will become repetitive, kind of like our Sundays and Wednesdays at church.
I have found that the biggest, deepest and most powerful words in scripture are not words like sanctification, justification, propitiation and so on. No, I’ve found that the biggest words in the bible are the littlest ones.
Words like “of” are one example of this. Especially when you consider that “of” means “springing from” then it all changes. Though there are many illustrations of this change and not to get off course here, I’ll share one for you so you can see how the littlest words are the most precious of them all.
“Springing from” can also mean “coming from another source” and when you read “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” see for yourself how it all changes from what you believed was being said into what is actually meant. The fruit most of us have been led to believe we must somehow produce by being gentler, kind, loving or forgiving doesn’t come from that at all.
“But, the fruit ‘springing from’ the Spirit is love…” The Spirit of Christ is the source of love and all that follows, the joy, peace and so on are expressions of that love.
As much as I would delight to say more about that, let’s look at Jesus words again in John 10:10 and magnify the littlest word there.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have IT more abundantly.”
“It” is the only word in the verse with two letters. It’s obviously the smallest of them all, but the most profound. Like a good husband, our Husband, Jesus Christ insists on a relationship. But, love must allow the object of its love to choose.
He will let us settle for less than Him. Just as I may allow that my wife has assumed so much less about me and the marriage has become dry. But, I’ll never divorce her. I’ll just grieve silently because there’s so much more to me than she knows.
The “it” in Jesus words is our opportunity to substitute anything at all. If we are content with the life we have, He, being gentle, will not force the issue on us. That wouldn’t be “choice” and would no longer be a relationship of husband to wife; it would descend into a master/servant relationship or a dictator/subject one at worst.
The day is coming when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” And we all know that, but for us, we’ve been given the opportunity that grace affords and we can add one little word to it which changes everything.
We get to say now that “Jesus Christ is MY Lord” or “Jesus Christ is THE Lord.” The littlest words of scripture are the biggest because they imply a choice that each of us can make.
“I am come that they might have life, AND that they might have it more abundantly.” Why the “and?” Because, although we have “life” to some degree, there’s more, there’s always more.
We can sing a song, warm a pew and go our way knowing that we will be in heaven and He’ll allow for that. But, there’s more, we can sing a song to Him and we can be made aware of the warmth of His embrace and we can know that although heaven may be wonderful, it is He who is called Wonderful who will make it so.
He is the abundant Life. Just as there’s more to me than my wife can know, it’s the lifetime journey of discovering just who I am that may or may not move her to know me more. I may give of my life, but I need to always know that I’m the “it” of the John 10:10 of our marriage; she may choose to know me more or she may settle for life as it is today, the choice is hers to make.
But, there’s more. There’s always more.
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