Abundant Life

Something I have noticed about Christians (at least the ones I have contact with) is that there is a heavy emphasis on dreams, grandiose futures and success. I’m not against people doing great things with their lives. Nor am I against success. I’m just uncertain that the emphasis is a healthy one. It seems there is a sense that people have to do great things for God. Or that living a simple happy quiet life is to waste it. Or that the salvation of the world depends on believers achieving these great and wonderful dreams.

I’m a dreamer. I have dreams, ones that have been with me for years, but I am rethinking what they are for. What they mean, how important they are and if they were motivated by a wrong understanding of God. You see I’d noticed that in my hope for my dreams to come about, I was missing the life I already have. I was wasting my life actually…the life I already have because I was hankering after things that haven’t happened yet. In fact, they might not ever happen. They are still only dreams after all…theoretical, ideas, hopes. Nothing concrete. But what IS real is an abundant life right here, right now.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still stuff I hope for. There are still things I want to do before I die. And I believe they are God-inspired. But I’m tired of pushing hard, constantly trying to ‘position’ myself for them to happen. Tired of ‘contending’ for them. Tired of panicking that I’m not doing enough to make them happen. And tired of missing the joy of the life I have right now.

I think some of this emphasis on pursuing greatness comes from a faulty understanding of the Gospel. Some people seem to have an overinflated opinion of their own importance. They seem to think God needs them. I’ve been in a place where I’ve felt the burden of responsibility for the salvation of the world. That if I don’t share the gospel with someone and they die, then it’s all my fault. How small do we think God’s love is? That he would trust the eternal condition of one of his children to me? He loves them more than that! We are invited to participate with Christ, this is true. But He’s not in a blind panic about getting the job done or revealing Himself or His love to people. I want to say Relax people! Participate with Christ, enjoy the richness of life that He has given us! To be quite honest, this reveals the love and light of Christ much more than the red-faced, bulging neck veins, head down, bum up approach. The gospel is good news!

I am hearing people preach the grace of God. They preach that “It is Finished!” but keep working so hard at making things happen. The hype surrounding their passions make it seem a little like they are tying to convince others or themselves that it is true. They talk about the rest of God, but at the same time there is a sense of constant hard work about them. They have no sense of enjoying life, or relishing the abundance they have been blessed with in this life. I can see a perpetual straining, contending and pushing foward. There is a constant seeking for elusive, poorly defined religious carrots. Out of their mouths comes grace, but their lives exemplify fanatical religious effort. They don’t have LIFE!


2 thoughts on “Abundant Life

  1. Phil says:

    Interesting. I think the lifestyle you are describing here is, like everything we do, the result of certain foundational beliefs. Whether one’s soteriology is Calvinist, Arminian, or a vague, unconsidered mish-mash of both (like most Christians) makes no difference as the end result is the same.

    Both systems end at the same point of self-examination that results in the driven, conscience-based religious life described in this post. For the Arminian, Christ’s work is complete in its scope but its efficacy is conditional upon the individual’s decision or moment of faith, resulting in the need to know whether that faith or that decision was genuine or not. All the assurance is based upon the the individual’s act and, consequently, the quality of that decision or that faith can only be gauged by a transformed life and the fruit of good works. Technically, this is not salvation by works, but practically the result is the same as if it was.

    For the Calvinist, Christ’s work is complete in its efficacy but its scope is limited to the elect, who have been pre-destined to receive this salvation, which is based entirely in God’s decision for them. This sounds good, but how can one know he is one of the elect? Once again, this leads to self-examination and the need to produce the fruit of good works as evidence of election.

    Both positions lead to a salvation based in man and also, tar the face of God as one who would leave His dear children’s eternal destiny in their own frail hands (Arminian) or as an arbitrary monster who predestines billions to eternal torment (Calvinism).

    So then, even if people are preaching the fullness of Grace, these foundational concepts are still there, subconciously subverting the message and producing a life of religious, conscience-based striving under the eye of an indifferent or angry God.

    Trinitarian theology (founded upon the familial relationality of the Trinity, not on the forensic legalism of God as judge) presents a salvation that is complete, both in its scope and efficacy but is not universalism. Christ has done something to and with the entire created order. He has mediated the adoption of all of mankind and performed a cosmic work that has united the created and non-created realms, i.e. united the created realm with the eternal reality of the Godhead. This adoption is complete and has been given as a free gift to all mankind. All that remains is to choose to participate in a relationship with God or not. This final relational decision rests with man because we are free and God does not impose himself in a controlling non-relational manner.

    T.F. Torrance speaks of faith like this:

    “The faith of the Son of God” is to be understood here not just as my faith in him, but as the faith of Christ himself, for it refers primarily to Christ’s unswerving faithfulness, his vicarious and substitutionary faith which embraces and undergirds us, such that when we believe we must say with St. Paul “not I but Christ,” even in our act of faith.

    • Thinky Think says:

      So true Phil.

      The more I learn, the more I am finding the gospel to be much simple than the confused mess I had previously believed (with a fair amount of dissatisfaction with the inconsistencies). At the same time, while it is simple to understand, the implications are far reaching and profound. More profound and more complete and more wonderful than I had ever imagined. A cosmic work indeed. And it is finished.

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