“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being which has come into being. In Him was life . . . .” (John 1:1-4a)
Life . . . I have come to see over the years that we humans are all very much alike when it comes right down to it. It is deceptive, because outwardly we look so different, so unique, so customized. On the surface, everything is so complex — billions of people, going countless different directions, pursuing everything imaginable. But underneath it all, in the human heart, we are identical. We share one longing, one ambition, one thirst — life. We all want it. We call it different things — happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, love, purpose. And we identify and target specific attributes of it — pleasure, peace, joy, contentment, self esteem. But we all crave it. This is the dream that we share in common — the desire to be filled up. Exactly what this means and what it looks like, we aren’t sure. If we were sure, we’d have already attained it. But we know what it would feel like, and we know that we still lack it. So with one mind, all of us, from every tribe, tongue, and nation continu to dream about and long for one thing . . . utopia . . . paradise . . . heaven . . . life.
Deep down we all know this is true. We know there is more to this life than we’ve come to understand and experience. Something big is missing. Something really, really big. Down through the centuries, those who came before us tried everything. There is nothing new under the sun. As a race, we’ve tried the pursuit of every form of pleasure, popularity and respect, creativity and the arts, technology, recreation, conquest, the acquisition of power, altruism, the accumulation of wealth and “stuff”, philosophy and religion of every form we could dream up, family, politics, . . . the list could go on for a long, long time. All of the great minds that have lived on this planet have applied themselves to this pursuit. And what have we gained from it all? How much more “filled” are we today, with all of our technological advances, our education, our enlightenment, our wealth, our “stuff”? Let’s face it — we are no better than those who came before us. Just like them, we are still left with empty hearts and we no clue what to fill them with. And worst of all . . . definitely worst of all . . . it appears that no one has the answer.
We are lacking and we know it. And that makes us vulnerable — to the latest “get happy quick” scheme, to manipulative advertisers, to religious “gurus”, to stupid choices and deception of the worst kind. Like sheep without a shepherd, we are hungry and thirsty, but we cannot take care of ourselves. We are in need . . . uncomfortable but undeniable need . . . for help.
But what if . . . just what if . . . help did come . . . but we did not know it . . . or did not understand it . . . or could not accept it? What if “life” was delivered right to our door, but it looked so different from what we expected it to look like that we dismissed it and left it sitting there on the front steps? What if our preconceived ideas of what “life” would look like are so wrong, so misplaced, that we couldn’t recognize it if it came up and shook our hand and introduced itself?
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5)
What if worse still . . . “life” came to our door and introduced itself, and we rejected it? What if the inadequate things and false perceptions that we had based our lives on in our vain attempt to find life on our own, prevented us from being able to accept “life” when we looked it in the eye? What if in order to embrace it, we had to let go of other things that we held too dearly, so we said “no.” What if we chose “death” over “life” because of our own spiritual blindness . . . ignorance . . . stupidity?
“He came to those who were His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)
Let me ask you a question. Don’t answer this question quickly. Think about it. Be totally honest with yourself? Do you have “life”? I’m not asking you theoretically, or theologically, or abstractly. I’m asking you practically . . . experientially . . . in your daily life. Do you have “life”? Do you feel full? Are the attributes of “life” constant companions in your life? You know — peace, joy, contentment, satisfaction, purpose, hope, etc.? Most people will immediately say “no”. Still others, their theology doesn’t want them to say “no”, because they think that they ought to be able to say “yes”, but if they are totally honest, the answer is “no”.
Do you want to be able to say “yes”? Do you want “life”? Abundant life in all of its fullness?
Then I direct you to my favorite author. His name is John. His last name is unimportant. He wrote a short treatise on “life”. In fact, he uses the word 39 times in his book. He says that life has come to this planet, and that it is available to all of us — not in the future, but right now — starting today and lasting into eternity. Here is his expressed purpose for writing:
” . . these have been written . . . so that you may have life . . .”
Let me be humbly honest with you. I have “life”. I had “theoretical life” for a long time. I had “supposed-to-have-it-because-of-what-I-believe” life for a long time. But I did not have experiential “life”. That changed when I met John and let him lead me to “life”. It wasn’t something that I was able to just pick up and have. I had to dig for it, hunt for it, wrestle with it, and change my mind over it (it was not what I was expecting it to look like). But in the end, I got it. Or should I say, I started getting it. It is something that I’ve grown in over the last two decades of my life, and look forward to growing in more in the future. Why? Because it is everything that I (and you, too — all of us humans) have been looking for my entire life. It makes me feel alive, day-in and day-out. I want more. And the beautiful thing about it is — it wants me to have more.
So I leave you with this thought . . . the very words of “life” itself: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
And this challenge . . . don’t quit, don’t relent, don’t ease up for even a moment until you have “life”. He wants you. And you’ll find Him, in John’s book — the Gospel of John. But don’t let it stop in your head, or you’ll miss it. It’s not “life” when it’s still in your head. It’s not “life” until it’s in your . . . you guessed it . . . life.