• Matthew Thornton

Finding life and life at its full

How can we discover this "life and life at its full" that Jesus came to offer? Matthew explores commitment and the challenge of giving God control of our lives.

I don’t know about you, but commitment can be hard in the world we live in today.

All you have to do is look at statistics such as the increasing divorce rates and decreasing career lengths and you start to see that our culture today struggles with commitment. When things aren’t as you want them to be, the world tells us its ok to give up and search for a better option.

Yet, what scares me most is I’ve found this consumerist mindset has pervaded my mindset towards God. Like a product, I’ve tried to customize the Bible, pick and choose the areas I wanted to believe in and disregarded the rest instead of committing to Him wholeheartedly.

But the Bible is clear that to have a full and complete relationship with Jesus, we have to pursue Him wholeheartedly and with all we have. Luke 18, verse 18-23 (NIV) is a good illustration of this:

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother’”.

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

More than just about money

It very easy to simply view this parable on its face value – that is, it concerns only money. However, to dismiss it as merely regarding greed removes its richness. The Greek used for ‘wealthy’ simply means an abundance of something.

Whilst some may have an abundance of money, others may have an abundance of time; an abundance of opportunities; an abundance of comfort or even an abundance of control over their lives. Yet, Jesus calls us to submit all this to Him if we are to follow Him.

But, if we’re honest with ourselves, do we really pursue Him at the expense of all else? Or are there aspects of our lives we still hang onto control of? We all have goals, ambitions, things that we want to achieve in our lives – I know I do. Whether wanting to have a certain job or wanting to live in a specific country, we all have an idea of how we want our lives to look like.

Surrendering all to God can be scary because it means sacrificing our carefully constructed plans that we have made to achieve happiness and fulfilment.

It means we run the risk of God asking us to do things that don’t fit with our life plan. The truth is that sometimes we doubt whether God really knows and wants what is best for us. We believe that the live we have planned for ourselves is better than the one God has envisioned for us.

But when we hold onto certain areas of our lives, we prevent God from performing the radical change and transformation that He has envisioned. Like excess cargo, holding onto things only ends up slowing us down and prevents us from reaching top speed in the life God has planned for us.

Sure, life at high speed can be frightening and feel like we’re out of control, but it can also give us a thrill like nothing on this earth ever could. A life with God is the only life that makes us truly alive because It is the very life we were created for before sin got in the way. If we want to experience this “life, and life at its full” (John 10:10, NIV) as Jesus has promised, we have got to lay our life in His hands.

But when we hold onto certain areas of our lives, we prevent God from performing the radical change and transformation that He has envisioned.

But, if you think about it, what are we truly sacrificing? As Strahan Coleman says, “True sacrifice in that sense doesn’t exist in the kingdom because how can it be a sacrifice when we gain something of greater worth than we’re leaving behind?”.

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” Psalm 37, verse 5-6, NIV.

“Life, and life at its full”

And so, if we want this “life, and life at its full” (John 10, verse 10, NIV) that Jesus came to offer, we need to ask ourselves that difficult and scary question: what excess cargo might we be carrying on board? What areas of our life, regardless of how small, are we holding onto and not giving God full control of? Are we allowing the non-committal culture of our world today to pervade our relationship with God?

God requires our full commitment, not because he wants to restrict us or diminish our happiness, but rather because it is only when we pursue God with all we have can we discover the fullness of the life that Jesus came to offer.

In the words of John Piper, “Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus magnifies him as the greatest treasure and brings you more joy – eternal, infinite joy – than any other delight ever could”.

So, what are waiting for?

Matthew Thornton is studying at the University of Auckland, Matthew finds that writing is one of the prime ways he connects with and grows closer to God. He loves seeing the way in which God has wired everyone uniquely and finds immense fulfilment in seeing others discover who God is to them. He would love to hear from you: matthewcthornton13@gmail.com // Photo: Kirstyn Paynter

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