All I ever hear about these days are the different Lego sets that my boys would like to buy. There is a never-ending supply of sets they like, but there is an ending supply of money they have to spend. This presents a healthy tension in them as they determine which ones they would like to buy now and which ones they would like to save up for later on. In their minds you can never have enough Lego sets. The word that comes to mind here is ‘abundance.’ They have an abundance of Lego sets now, but they would like more. There is a desire for additional sets, even though they could play with the ones they have and be completely satisfied with them.
I love the picture of abundance because it indicates an overflow of something. It highlights a place of blessing.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” – John 10:10
This past week I heard two stories in the news of people who were missing and then turned up dead. This is the way of the world, the way of the thief. It is not the way of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. This stands as the antithesis to what the culture is all about. Sure we say we are about life, but unless we have one who provides eternal life, the end result is still death. This life is completely different because it is overflowing with the Spirit of God. It stands to affirm life. It stands to provide life. We want more of it, don’t we?
This discussion came up in a recent class with some teenagers. I ask them if there was any difference between them and their friends because of this abundant life. The answer I got was: “no.” So, I pressed on. I went on to explain that this abundant life is really defined as different or strange. It stands as a stark contrast to what is all around us. I was then quickly informed that if that is the case, they don’t want it.
But, wait! This is what we do want, isn’t it? We want to live. We want to have purpose. We want to find out that the path we are on actually leads to life, not death, right? Yet, the pressure to conform to the culture around them is so compelling that it is hard to stand out. Teenagers who stand up for Jesus in their schools today are being pushed around to the point that they are often willing to just sit down and be quiet. This is not what Jesus has in mind here.
When Jesus compared himself to the bad shepherds of Israel, He was not telling them that so that they could just survive. He was telling them that so that they would thrive. He wanted those who followed Him and to know that they need not be afraid. He wanted them to understand that this life, while different and outrageous to the world, is actually the place where significance is found. That means that the people we all come in contact with each day need to know the truth.
There has been much said about showing people your faith by your actions. I would not disagree with that, since it was Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5. I would say that this is not all of it, though. Our words need to back up our actions. The message we have about eternal life is not something to keep quiet about. With so much death all around us I think more and more people want to hear something hopeful. We want more life and since we have an abundance of it in Jesus Christ, I think it is time to share it, don’t you?