december 12

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The gift of life.

Jesus said, in the latter half of John 10:10…

“I came so that they might have life… to the fullest.”

These are words that have so often been taken out of context, and used to sensationalize the idea of God’s favor being connected to how many earthly blessings one might possess.

To be honest, I am fairly certain I don’t understand all the theological underpinnings of these words, but I am going to make an attempt to explain their impact on us, and the role of the Christmas story in bringing us, “Life to the fullest.”

“I came… so that they might have LIFE.”

LIFE.

What did He mean? Really?

I know what I want out of life. I know how I would describe, “Life to the full,” but something tells me it might be a little different than what Jesus meant.

I want comfort, control, and clarity. I want to know the answer to question, “why,” in every aspect of my life. I don’t want any surprises, and I want to understand. I want the path of least resistance to all things that I want, and I want it now. To me, life to the full, begins and ends with control, with comfort, and with clarity.

None of which is offered by Jesus to mankind, when He calls us to himself. In fact, When Jesus called His first disciples into this, “Life to the full,” here is how he described it…

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

How does that verse, coincide with the idea of “Life to the full,” and make any sense to us whatsoever?

The answer, I think, lies in the meaning of the word LIFE.

Both of these verses use it, and although they seem to be talking about different things, they are in fact using the exact same definition of the word. I know, I know, that seems crazy, but it’s true.

The kind of life, Jesus came, to this earth, on the first Christmas, to give you and me, can’t be quantified by how much stuff we own, or how big our Roth IRA’s are. It can’t be defined by our level of happiness or our lack of hardship. No, the kind of life Jesus was born onto this earth to invite us into is something so much better, so much truer, so much more reliable.

Deep down, we all know that Comfort is fleeting, and happiness is a pretty useless pursuit, because those things are circumstance dependent, and whether we want to admit it or not, none of us are really in control of all our circumstances…

The LIFE, Jesus came to give us, this full life that He speaks of, has zero connection to circumstances, which is why, once it is bestowed upon a human life, it is founded on bedrock. Its the kind that a “Thief, cannot not come and steal or destroy (That’s the first half of John 10:10), It is not fleeting, nor is it prone to wander. This kind of LIFE is what Jesus meant, when he said He came to give us Life to the full.

The best part of this LIFE…

It’s yours to embrace… it comes with no strings attached, it comes with no prerequisites. It is yours, today…

If you want it.

The only thing you have to do, is let go of yours.

I will leave you with a story.

In the African Jungle, scientists, study monkeys. In order to study the patterns of monkeys and the way they do life, a scientist has to get an up close look at them. So they must get them into captivity so they can observe them closer. Here’s the thing, monkeys don’t just jump into your lap. So how do they catch them…

It is surprisingly easy actually.

They put a cage out on the jungle floor, and place a piece of food that will attract a monkey. On this cage is a hole, just big enough for a monkey to slip their hand inside, and grab hold of the food. The genius of this device is that the hole, while big enough for the empty hand of a monkey, is not big enough for a monkey’s hand full of food. So, when the monkey takes hold of the food they are after, their hand is stuck, unless they are willing to release the food from their grasp, and retract their hand.

The problem for the monkey is this…

There is something hard wired into them, that won’t allow them to release the food, and escape to freedom. These monkeys will grip so tightly to the thing that is ultimately going to lead to their captivity. They have determined that this single piece of food, is worth their enslavement.

This is what Jesus meant, when he said,

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Listen… I have no idea if this story is true… or based on actual science. What I do know is that it is a vivid picture of the human experience.

We want to save our lives… so much so that we clutch the very things that exclude us from having real hope, real freedom, real LIFE.

So the question for each of us this advent is simple.

Are you trying to save your LIFE?

Are you willing to let go of the LIFE you think you need, and let God show you why He sent Jesus?

To give you real Life?

I would love nothing more than for you to experience real LIFE this Christmas.

LIFE to the full.

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