Sunday, November 20, 2016

Life with a Capital L.

Many people wander aimlessly through a life with a lower case letter "l", breathing the air and eating the food.   Failing to grasp the deep meaning of possessing a soul, they merely exist on a daily basis.  Gazing at the mirror, they view their own reflection and inspect a me they see instead of the me God wants them to be.  Unfortunately the bottom line is that some people are willing to just survive when God wants them to thrive.  Can it be true that God's desire for us is that we refuse to settle for a life that's second best?  Thanks be to God for the capacity to realize that life isn't meant to be lived in the lower case.  Instead we can truly live Life with a Capital L in Christ.  The giant L describes the Life with God.  It's New Life, Eternal Life, a Life of incredible fullness in Jesus Christ. 

This Life with a capital L is described decisively in the Gospel of John.  As the Gospel writer John recognized, it is Father God who initiates the action by sending His Son Jesus into a world in desperate need (see John 3:16-17).   It is only through Jesus that God does His work inside us and among us, bringing about newness.  Thanks be to God!  In fact, John summarized the importance of this fact in his Spirit-inspired purpose statement: "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  (John 20:31)   Truly the life of fullness comes as a result of faith in Jesus Christ.  In his important volume The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Frederick Dale Bruner spells out this truth: "John's Gospel believes that "Life" in the word's full sense occurs only where there is trust in ... Jesus.  Life exists, in the Gospel's conviction, where there is no longer the abysmal dread of death, the awful weight of guilt, the horrid emptiness of meaninglessness, the lifeless absence of God, and the futile quest of the world's multiple gods and idols.  Life is present wherever Jesus, and all that he means, is appreciated and finally trusted."  (p. 1196)

Sometimes this Life is misunderstood as something received in the distant future when Christ returns.  However, God's intention is for your Full Life with Him to begin right here and right now.  Recently we completed a four week course at the prison to prepare men for either baptism or profession of faith.  The final class described the Christian life.  In summary, the Christian life includes but is not limited to prayer, worship, walking the walk, love, service and mission.  One of the participants in the class, Rodney now understands that his life in prison is full of purpose.  He writes to encourage fellow inmates to "use this time in prison as a mission and not an intermission in your life."  Using prison as a mission means seeking out hurting individuals who are hungry and thirsty for the Lord.  Rodney is practicing what he preaches since he is one of a dozen men at the prison ready to begin the Stephen Ministry program.  Receiving the Stephen Ministry training will enable Rodney to reach out skillfully and effectively by giving quality Christian care to those in need.  Rodney concludes these thoughts with a prayer to his All Knowing Almighty Father that "I may whole heartedly follow your mission for my life and bring glory to your Kingdom.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen."  Will you share Rodney's prayer?  Pray that God's Spirit will move inside the members of New Life Prison Community to create newness and Life with a Capital L.  Pray too that God will invigorate your life so it will become a purpose-filled Life that's lived well for Him.

Rick Admiraal is the pastor of New Life Prison Community, a prison congregation in Newton, Iowa. New Life is in the middle of its 6th year of ministry to the incarcerated.  Rick & his wife Rose have a son and a daughter: John is a junior year at Calvin College while Annaliese is a freshman at Pella Christian High School.  Pella is home for the Admiraal family.

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