Thursday Apr 17th, 2014
“Hi, how are you today?” “How are ya?” “How are you doing?”
We’ve all asked this question or have been asked this question. I know my default answer, the one I give most of the time, is “good” or “fine.” And that is the answer I usually get when I ask other people how they are doing. Often we’re just asking or answering the question as part of our greeting, no more meaningful than the “good” of “good morning.” Usually we don’t want the real answer:
“I’m having a rough day.” “My life stinks!” “Not so good.” “I’m desperate! Can you help me?”
We’re not looking for these kinds of answers, but these are the answers that, if people were honest, they would probably answer with. Occasionally someone will answer “I’m having a great day!” and their enthusiasm makes you cringe.
Life as it is
It seems that for most people, life is not all that it should be. Life is difficult, tiring, boring, an existence, frustrating, weighing you down, or disappointing. Many Christians know that they should not feel this way, that a relationship with Jesus should make more of a difference in their lives, but they feel just the same as everyone else. Unfortunately, for some Christians, faith in Christ has meant only that they will spend eternity in heaven with God. That is of course extremely important, for without a relationship with God through Jesus, each person’s destiny is an eternity separated from God and suffering forever in hell.
The problem is that those who view their faith as only an escape from hell are missing out on an incredible life that God has for them. They put their faith in Jesus so they won’t go to hell, but then live the rest of their lives just like anyone else in the world – having a boring, frustrating, tiring, and disappointing existence. Many of them try to do everything that they think God wants them to do – going to church, keeping the ten commandments, and trying to be nice to people. But they feel that something is still missing, that life could be something more than what they’ve got.
Life as it should be
Jesus tells us that our feelings about this are correct, that there should be something more to life than the frustrations and disappointments that many of us call our existence. Jesus said in John 10:10-11, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus calls himself a shepherd and he describes all others who try to gain our following as thieves. He was specifically referring to the Jewish leaders who refused to accept who He was, but it applies to any who have religious ideas that don’t include Jesus as Lord and Savior. They are thieves because they fail to provide what only Jesus can provide. Jesus says he has come to give life. No one else can provide life that lasts forever, the kind of life that Jesus gives. They are thieves because without faith in Jesus Christ, we won’t have life forever in a relationship with God (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). So just as a shepherd protects his sheep, Jesus is the only one to protect and give life to us. When you know Jesus, you know life, because he is the only source of life. Knowing the shepherd and following him gives sheep the protection they need for life. Knowing Jesus and following him through faith is the only way to have life that lasts forever.
Jesus gives eternal life - life that lasts forever. He does not give life that is only a future escape from hell. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He gives us real life, life that lasts forever because of the quality of that life. He provides life as it should be. It is life because it is a relationship with Jesus himself. Sheep know their master’s voice and follow him. They have a relationship with their shepherd (John 10:14). Jesus has the same kind of relationship with his followers. It is through knowing Jesus and trusting his word that we gain life and have life.
Jesus came so that we can have life to the full. Life as it should be is life how Jesus has designed it. When we put our faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9), we enter a relationship with Jesus our Shepherd, Savior, and Lord. We become part of God’s family and will live forever (John 1:12). When you know Jesus, you have life and know what life is.
Knowing Jesus – knowing life
But we often revert to life as the world sees it – boring, frustrating, disappointing. Jesus did not come to give us that kind of life. When we start approaching life like that, we are far from where we should be. If Jesus came to give us life to the full, then why not live life to the full? Why not seek out what exactly that looks like? Why not live up to the kind of life Jesus came to give us? Why not find out from Jesus how life to the full should work in our lives? Why not live life as it should be?
I challenge you to stop living a same old-same old existence. I challenge you to pursue the life Jesus has for you. I encourage you to evaluate your relationship with Jesus and see what you can work on with him so that you can live a life worth living. Why not live the life Jesus has for you?