Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Life Abundant

This post is going to have heavy traces of some recent stuff I've already done, but we're going to look at a few new things and it should be fun. All of this is the result of a couple of great discussions and preparing for a class I did on this subject at Green Valley Bible Camp. I'm going to start with some Greek. Now, there's a slight chance I could get scolded for how I'm about to use it, we'll see if any of my old professors read this thing. 

Ok, so first, there are two Greek words (that I know about anyway) which mean "Life". The first word is Bios, which is where we get our term Biology (the study of life) from. There are only 11 uses of it in the New Testament. Only once is it clearly used in a positive way (1 Tim. 2:4). The rest of the times it is in either neutral in tone, or more prevalently, used in a negative connotation and is connected to ideas of wealth, possessions, or what a person does. In Luke 8:14, the word is used when Jesus says "And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature." 1 John 2:16 talks about Bios when John says "For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and boasting of what a person has and does  — is not from the Father but is from the world." These two verses give us a decent picture of what citizens in the first century might have thought "life" consisted of: what you own, what you experience, and what you accomplish. Sounds pretty much like today to me. How many times have you heard it said of someone that they lived a full and rich life? Usually when someone says that about somebody else, they mean that they did alot of things, went to alot of places, accomplished alot of things, or in general, just had alot of stuff. Anybody out there got a Bucket List? I know I do, and it shows that I'm not immune to this type of thinking either. 

There is another word that get's translated as life, one you may know. It's the word Zoe (dzo-ay'). This word can mean a person's life in general, but it is also the word that is associated with some pretty positive imagery (e.g. Bread of Life, Book of Life, Eternal Life, etc.). Jesus says that "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). What's awesome to me is that when Jesus talks about life here, he disconnects and contrasts it from any idea of possessions or experiences. For this kind of life apparently cannot be stolen or even taken away by death. The thief can take your possessions and the funds so that you can have rich experiences such as vacations and the like. The thief can even take your physical existence. What Jesus has to offer, not even death can take. WHAT A THOUGHT. This life is not even truly about physically living

So we've talked about what life shouldn't be, and that Jesus came to offer something completely different. So...what is this "life" about? Let's play around with the idea of eternal life for a bit. Let me ask you this question: When does your eternal life begin? Try to imagine a reallllllllllllllllllly long rope (you can thank Francis Chan for this illustration). Now, at the end of the rope, it's burnt so that it doesn't become frayed. Your ENTIRE life here on earth is that burnt end. Kind of morbid, I realize, but think about the REST of the rope. The rest of the rope is the rest of eternity and your eternal life. Here's the thing, the whole rope is all still your life. Call it semantics, whatever, but to me, you are living your eternal life now. Since Jesus came, is death really that great of a chasm? Now, our burnt end of a life is still incredibly significant, but only because it determines how we spend the rest of our eternal life. 

Jesus came to establish a Kingdom. Alot of people thought it was going to be physical, but they were wrong. He came to set up a Spiritual one. I think I've said it before, perhaps not, but one thing I read once was the most scholars think that the reason Jesus performed miracles and healed people was primarily to point forward to something else, something greater (141). Think about it; Jesus didn't physically heal the whole world, He actually traveled less in His lifetime than alot of people travel before they reach 20. His purpose was never simply to heal, His purpose was to point forward to something of far more significance: His Father's Kingdom. 

We live out this type of "Kingdom Life" whenever we do things that make this world a little bit more like heaven for people. We dig wells because we believe there will be living water for all someday. We lay concrete floors because we believe the streets of heaven will be laid with gold. We feed the hungry because one day, there will be no more hunger. We strive to be peacemakers because we get to spend eternity with the Prince of Peace. 

I've said it before and I say it now, Kingdom Life doesn't work here on earth completely. We'll probably never eradicate hunger from the world, even if it's just because most people are too stingy (including us). Wars will continue to happen. The water crisis around the world may never be fully fixed. But you know what, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try, because we're pointing forward to something greater and inviting people to come along. 

We usually feel amazingly close to God when we do these hard things that don't work. When we do service on mission trips, we're exhausted...but we're happy. These things fulfill us in ways that possessions, wealth, roller coasters, and dare I say it...climbing never truly can (even though I'm pretty certain there will be climbing in heaven). We feel happiest and closest to God when we create that thin space between heaven and earth. 

We will have to suffer in order to truly live out Kingdom Life here on this earth. Notice I didn't say may...I said will. Living out this type of lifestyle will absolutely bring about better things on this earth and bring others closer to God, because we are creating that thin space for people. But because this kind of living is SO right side up in SUCH an upside down world, it's going to feel more upside down. 2 Timothy 3:12 reads "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". Earlier in this letter, Paul says that from all of these things, he was rescued. The funny thing is, we think that Paul realized he was going to be executed when he was writing this letter. He saw his end as near, and yet he says that he was rescued from these earlier persecutions. I honestly wonder if he'd say that even after his execution. Resurrection saves. 

I pose this question: Did Jesus and the Apostles live full and abundant lives? Do you think that? Most feel obligated to say yes, I mean, we're talking about Jesus and the Apostles. I think that they did as well, the funny thing is, most of them had their lives ended early as martyrs (all but John we believe). They didn't have theme parks, beach vacations, or a long list of athletic accomplishments. Yet, we say that they lived abundantly. Why? Because they lived out their eternal lives out until those left alive put their bodies in the ground and then just continued on with their eternal lives. The burnt end of their rope was much smaller than the average person's, but we say they lived more in that small burnt end than most do in a long lifetime. Granted that the movie doesn't exactly give anything close to a picture of Kingdom Life, but I now cheesily quote Braveheart..."Every man dies, not every man truly lives". 

So ultimately, Life Abundant is a Life Reversed by the power of the cross. We may not solve world hunger, see world peace, or ever eradicate sin completely from our lives, but Jesus can, even if it's in the next life. In the mean time, we live like we're working towards those things, we point forward, and willfully endure the suffering that must be faced in this life, knowing that the troubles of this burnt end of a life is nothing compared to getting to live with God in a place where there is no pain, no sickness, and no tears.  

Only act in ways that you'd want the rest of the world to follow your example. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Live Life Abundantly and point forward to something so much better. 

Root, Andrew, and Kenda C. Dean. The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2011. Print

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this article brohem!! I thank God for you and your service in the Kingdom. Im also a little jealous that you got to be a GVBC for a week. Take care man!!