Welcome to my first mini-series at ‘Living Life to the Full’! It’ll be based on some scriptures which I think will speak into the content of this blog. Today’s post is part one of four, and the aim is to explore Jesus’ words in John 10:10, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’. Words which, I’m sure, will inform the blog in a big way. Please add your comments and experiences so that we can start a conversation. Also, if you know of anyone who might appreciate this series, please share it with them.
Where does this verse come from? This verse is found in the Old Testament (aka the Bible part one), in John’s gospel account of Jesus’ life, in a passage entitled ‘The good shepherd and his sheep.’ Jesus is talking here to the Pharisees – members of an ancient Jewish sect who were prone to applying the Old Testament (aka the Bible part one) very legalistically – for themselves and for hapless others. Performance and rules were more important to these guys than their relationship with God and other people, as Jesus points out elsewhere in the gospels.
It’s an amazing passage – read it! – but in this post I’m focusing on verse 10, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it to the full’. These words follow straight on from a verse in which Jesus uses the metaphor of a gate to explain that he makes a way for us to know the Father God. I want to suggest that as well as making the way for an eternal relationship with God (what happens when we die), Jesus is also talking about living fully and abundantly in the here-and-now (what happens during our earthly lives). My understanding of John 10:10 is that following Jesus isn’t just about going to heaven – as mind-boggling and exciting as that is – but that it has implications for how we live in the world now. How does this ‘full/abundant’ life apply to me? When I first heard this verse, I wasn’t a Christian – but I remember thinking ‘Gosh, life to the full – that sounds pretty good – how could you not want that?’ It certainly challenged some of my preconceptions about the Christian life being ‘religious’ and dull. But it didn’t really occur to me at that stage to think of how the words would translate in my own life. I mentioned in the post ‘Living Life to the Full’ that I’ve been pretty busy since Freddie started school last September. And before that, too – I was a full-time teacher prior to him being born, and the years between birth and school involved volunteering for a parenting charity, helping out at the local secondary school and nursery, a bit of paid marketing work and translation work, helping in the church crèche and running the mid-week toddler group. I’ve always been enjoyed being busy, and now Freddie’s at school I have even more time to fill. I pitch in at Freddie’s school and although I have moved on from pre-school involvement at church I have taken on other roles there (both my own city-centre church and sometimes at my fab local church). I’ve started a community interest company for social enterprise with a friend, and I volunteer for an amazing charity which provides a bridge between those who wish to give and those who have need (read more about that here). I love all these roles, and in addition I have windows of free time for friends, knitting, cycling, crossword-ing, being part of a book group, Pilates and now blogging! In fact one day not long ago I came across John 10:10 again and thought ‘Yes, this is how I feel. This feels like life to the full, abundant life.’ It’s nothing to do with material abundance – it’s all about relationships, my relationship with Jesus and with those around me. I said I might look at a ‘truth’ and a ‘lie’ for each value in this blog series. The truth according to John 10:10 is that Jesus came that I might have life, and have it to the full. There are staggering implications for our lives, now and for ever. The lie is that voice in my head telling me that I SHOULD be busy all the time, lest life should feel empty. I must admit that on the day Freddie started school, the house seemed eerily quiet! (Readers that know Freddie will be snickering into their keyboards right now!) I have often intentionally made myself busy just to cover over the deafening silence of not having him around. I think this is potentially a hard and sad topic for many parents, and one that would necessitate a whole separate blog post. But I do feel that to make myself busy is to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees, who emphasised ‘doing’ more than ‘knowing’ God. I’ve found that it’s possible to ‘do’ so much, I forget who I originally set out to do it for! And let’s not forget the first half of this verse – there is a thief out there who doesn’t love life, who wants to destroy it. If my diary becomes jam-packed, I’m effectively doing the thief’s work for him by sucking the joy out of life. It’s not kind to me or to those close to me. I love Jesus’ comeback in the second half of the verse – in him the thief has been defeated, the bondage of death broken. This is how God is changing me through my new-found free time. I’m learning that living life to the full doesn’t mean filling every second – it means knowing Jesus. What a privilege! This series will be continued as we look at the values of safety, freedom and rest, but for now I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s post – give me some ideas for the coming instalments!
- Are your expectations of yourself kind?
- When you look at your diary, is there anything in it that is no longer life-giving and could be laid down?