January 9, 2015
Friday after Epiphany Sunday
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Jesus Gives Life To The Full
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.
Everyone wants a “full life,” fulfillment,” to live “life to the full.”
And this is what Jesus came to give: “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
But we may not define a full life or fulfillment the way Jesus does. For Jesus, a full life means divine life: the Life of God; the Life that the Father, Son and Spirit have been living for all eternity. This is the life Jesus has in himself and shares with us by uniting us to himself as his body:
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me… Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes… Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life… For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself… This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day… And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 6:27; 14:6; 5:21; 6:40; 17:3).
Many of us grew up confusing “eternal life” with “everlasting life,” life that just continues after death. We were taught that if we followed Jesus, we would spend it in “heaven,” being “perfectly happy.” If not, we would spend it in “hell,” being perfectly miserable. Heaven and hell were the “carrot and stick” to get us to lead a good life.
Our teachers described the stick in terrifying detail, but said practically nothing about the carrot. As a result, the older generation understood “heaven” mostly as just the alternative to hell. And when people stopped being afraid of going to hell—through a different but equally unexamined cultural conditioning—the prospect of “eternal life” with Jesus was too vague to keep them going to church.
Presumably, life with Jesus and the rest of the “saved” in heaven would be like interacting with God in church. They found that a bore, so the present generation just focus on living as good a life as they can here and now, and settle for hoping for the best when they die.
They have no idea that the “eternal life” they will live in heaven begins already on earth. Or that, if they don’t experience it on earth, they may not experience it in heaven either.
Few people today are wrapped up in living “divine life,” or the “supernatural life” of “grace.” And if they are not trying to live a “supernatural” life, why do they need the “supernatural” helps offered by the Church? They find that what helps them most to live a good human life is having good human experiences. And they find very few of those in church. So they don’t go.
There are plenty of people out there who have no conscious relationship with Christ, do not attend any church, and who are perceived as living “good Christian lives,” although they could not tell you the difference between the New Law and the Old Law, or the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments. But their lifestyle is basically indistinguishable from that of the churchgoers, which means the churchgoers don’t know the difference either.
More than we like to admit, believers and non-believers, the church-affiliated and the “nones,” are all just trying to live good, human lives. Few of them know what “divine life” is. And we aren’t teaching it.
If people have not experienced “eternal life”—here and now, on this earth—they don’t have a clue what Jesus really came to give. They don’t understand what John is talking about when he says:
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1John 1:1).
That kind of fellowship requires awareness of living on the level of God. It is a relationship based on the conscious experience of interacting with God and others in ways inspired by divine faith, sustained by divine hope and expressed in acts of divine love. That is interaction empowered by “grace”—that is, by the favor of sharing in God’s own divine life, “eternal life.”
When John wrote, it was “to you who believe in the name of the Son of God.” And his purpose was “so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1John 5:13). Not “everlasting life,” a human life that lasts forever, but “eternal” life, life without beginning or end, the Life that belongs to God alone. When we enter into this Life we experience ourselves living on the level of God. That, and that alone, is “life to the full.” That is the life Jesus came to give.
It is a mystical experience. Until we have it, we don’t know Jesus Christ.
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life (1John 5:20).
Pray: “Father, reveal your Son to my mind and heart.”
Practice: In everything you do, ask how Jesus is doing it with you, in you and through you.
Discuss: How do you experience your life as divine?