I’ve gotten to that age where if I don’t have my glasses on me the world is closer to a watercolor painting than a photograph. All the edges blend in a blurred frenzy of patterns - little distinction.
That’s the issue with the Bible too. It seems so black and white. Earth is a sinful existence and we hope for a miraculous pass that gets us a heavenly home. A very few acknowledge some kind of abundant life that Jesus referenced in John 10:10 - and, it’s pretty rare to see anyone celebrating that for more than a few mountaintop moments.
What’s missing from this picture?
Well, for me, it was becoming aware of one thing: Spirit v. flesh.
I’ll guess that the only ones reading this column are believers. With that assumption behind, the issue is not one of a heavenly destiny - it’s all about the here and now.
Is the abundant life real or not? As far as I can tell, it has to do with your lenses.
In John 6:63 Jesus said, “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” He’s not talking skin and bones - He’s speaking about a mindset - a way of thinking, organizing this existence, our affairs and philosophies.
John 15:4-8 draws the line here: Abide in me and bear fruit - don’t and have your work burned up as useless waste.
Romans 8:1-17 confirms that this is the issue we all face.
Galatians 5 hammers it!
It affects how we read all of scripture. If as believers we choose to operate according to our own agenda, strategies and abilities, we will never see abundant life the way Jesus expresses it (Let he who has ears to hear and eyes to see…). Our Bible studies will be exhausting works of the flesh - our missions simple image-conscious click bait, our daily lives a treadmill of laws, failed expectations and crushing performanced-based living. As the MSG puts it, the works of the flesh are summed up as:
“a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives.”
But those who choose… CHOOSE to walk according to the Spirit - well, what is the fruit of the spirit? Do you or I need any of that - do we need it to a magnitude that is described as more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)
The Spirit... gives, advocates, prays, intercedes, acts, guides, comforts, strengthens, delivers, and more. Read any of your favorite passages through that lens and my bet is that the blurred meanings of scripture, and what’s previously been impossible to create in your own life by your own means, suddenly becomes a river of living water. (John 7:37-39)
That will show, through the best lens, the abundant life that scripture helps to reveal and Jesus makes a reality in our
every day world.
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