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A superabundance of life

December 9, 2022
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Daily Scripture

John 10:7-15

7 So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 When the hired hand sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away. That’s because he isn’t the shepherd; the sheep aren’t really his. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him.
14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus said he came “so that they could live life to the fullest” (verse 10). Sometimes we picture a life lived according to God’s principles as dreary, dutiful, devoid of joy. That’s how it began to seem to George Bailey, until Clarence showed him what his town would be like if he had never lived. In Clarence’s words, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives…. You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life” *—the kind of “life to the fullest” Jesus promised.

  • Many “thieves” can rob us of the life Jesus offers. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “The modern Western world has discovered how unsatisfying materialism really is, and is looking for something more, something beyond. Many thieves have told lies, and have deceived the sheep, stolen them and left them for dead.” What voices have most lifted your vision above the empty promises of materialism? When have you felt that material things alone just can’t satisfy your deepest needs?
  • Scholar William Barclay noted, “The Greek phrase used for having it more abundantly means to have a superabundance of a thing. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he means, is to have a superabundance of life.” *** When has following Jesus led you to times that made you feel deeply, fully alive? How can you continue to live out the joyous “superabundance” of life Jesus offers?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for calling me to a fuller life, beyond boredom or cynicism. I want to join you in the great adventure of restoring a broken world to your purposes. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

As I was pondering today’s message, I thought it might be helpful to visit with Maurice Rose retired executive from The Glum, Lackluster Organization Of Melancholy (G.L.O.O.M. for short).

DL: Mr. Rose I appreciate your time. I applaud your selection of the Christmas carol, “A Cold Bleak Midwinter,” as the office background music.

Moe Rose: Please call me Moe. Let me guess, you’re probably a “Joy to the World” kind of guy.

DL: Guilty. Over the years, I have been accused of being a tad too positive. My favorite comic depicts 2 guys in a medieval prison chained spread-eagle to the wall. The one guy slyly turns to the other & whispers, “Pssst. Here’s my plan.” I’m so optimistic I’ll even leave the engine running while Doris runs into Costco for “just one thing.”

You must feel pretty good today. It seems that with every headline, your organization is on a roll.

Moe Rose: It IS a heady time for our group. I started back in the ‘70’s & we never dreamed we’d have it so good. Back then, of course, we only had a morning & evening newspaper edition. Imagine, only 2 updates a day for every calamity, crime, & chaotic event. That was so depressing.

Flash forward to today. We have instantaneous access to discouraging news from around the globe every time we glance at our phones. Anxiety & depression are at record levels. You could say we have hit the proverbial bottom of the barrel of bleakness. As we like to say, “From the sandbox to the pinebox, there’s always room for G.L.O.O.M.”

DL: Interestingly, in the face of these dreary circumstances our passage notes that Jesus encourages us to live a life of abundance.

Moe Rose: Jesus? Ugh that Guy again. My boss started our organization 2,000 years ago to try to combat His message of hope & joy. He drives us up the wall. Every time we think we’ve paved over the world with a layer of doom & despair, a crack appears in the surface & Jesus springs up like a flower of hope.

By the way, you’d appreciate this joke. “What does the optimist say in Hades? Sure it’s hot, but at least it’s a dry heat.” Anyway, how can anyone trust Jesus’ promise of this “life of abundance?”

DL: Well, perhaps our perception of a life of plenty is a bit skewed. Consider the following:

  • Sometimes we’re tempted to believe that if we have any problems, challenges, or setbacks, then there is no way we can also be experiencing a life of fruitfulness. However, this formula robs us of experiencing any joy or hope, because no life is ever going to be perfectly free of pain & sorrow all the time.
  • Sometimes we’re tempted to view our past as a prison that prevents us from living a life of good tidings. However, truly living a life of abundance may require us to look to our past with optimism & grace. Yes, we can’t change our past but we can change how we view our mistakes & miscues & look at our failures as opportunities to improve ourselves for a better tomorrow.
  • Sometimes, we may be tempted to view the idea of a life of plenty as being so fleeting or temporary that it isn’t worth the effort. But, maybe we’d be better served if we eagerly seized the moment to squeeze all of the joy that we possibly can out of each day precisely because we realize that this abundance can be so fleeting.

Moe Rose: Good points, but I’d contend that if you wanted to avoid a life of joy/abundance here are some tips to follow:

  • Don’t smile at anyone be it a cashier, a barista, or waiter/waitress – you might make them feel good & they’ll smile back, which isn’t going to help you keep your day of dourness.
  • Don’t offer assistance to anyone like helping a neighbor with some downed tree branches or bringing in their groceries – they might be appreciative, which isn’t going to help your brand of brooding.
  • And whatever you do, don’t volunteer. You might feel uplifted by helping other people by being, say, a Greeter or Usher at some Christmas Eve service. Why spoil a perfectly good season of sourness?

DL: Interesting tips. By the way, if things were going so well, why did you retire?

Moe Rose: Let’s just say counting on a bonus from a boss nicknamed “The Great Deceiver” probably wasn’t a smart business strategy. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have tickets for the new musical, “Old Yeller.”

DL: They’ve made that sad story into a musical?

Moe Rose: Yes. The accompanying score consists of songs from the ‘50’s. I hear that “You Ain’t Nothing but a Houndog,” is a real show-stopper.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* From https://www.quotes.net/movies/it%27s_a_wonderful_life_5869.

** Wright, N.T., John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 150). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

*** William Barclay, The Gospel of John—Volume 2 Chapters 8–21 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 60.