by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jesus: John 10:10)
We frequently refer to God as our Heavenly Father–recognizing that he is the epitome of what a father should be. That is, that he looks out for the welfare of his children. In this passage Jesus offers us an abundance of life, not a life of abundance. An abundance of life would be a complete life—a life that is filled with goodness.
Most (not all) parents want what is best for their children. The children may not understand. They may think that their parents have not kept up with the times, and don’t know what is going on in the world. Most of us come to the point when we realize that our parents knew more than we thought; that indeed they were looking out for our welfare. Of course, we recognize that the best intentioned of parents can make mistakes.
But God does not make mistakes. He always wants what is best for us. That is why he gave us the Ten Commandments. He knows that if we live by them we will have better lives for ourselves and for others. But many humans see the Commandments as oppressive; depriving of pleasure. Like the child, we feel that we know better than God. The Bible teaches that to live in God’s will is to have life, and to ignore him and his teachings will result ultimately in disaster.
In this life, we find ourselves in a struggle between what is good for us and for others—and for what we want. The Bible acknowledges this struggle.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5,6) “
All of us can recognize the truth of this passage. Our Savior offers up his life in atonement for our sins, and his teachings for our good. He gave us two basic rules: #1 to love God with our heart and our soul and our mind. #2 to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is good both for us and for our neighbor. In Jesus Christ we find newness of life.
“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Rather than depriving us of life, God gives us life. All of us have choices to make! There are bad and even wicked and evil things to be engaged in. But life is not all bad; the world is not all bad.
We are bidden to grow in Jesus Christ, and to seek the best of life!
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Indeed, the opportunities for wholeness and enjoyment are immeasurable. It is our sin—our perversity—that brings us to choose the evil over the good. In Jesus Christ, God forgives us of our sin, and he sets a path for us that will bring joy.
God is good!
Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note
Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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