Grueling Christianity

John 10:10 b: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” With this text, I see a sharp contrast between what Jesus brought us, and what is offered by many churches in the U.S. today.

Many Christians seem to frame the issue of being a Christian, being saved, in terms of whether you will go to Heaven or to Hell. For me, that is like framing the issue of what to eat in terms of whether you will end up being full or not. If you are unsaved (and headed towards Hell) then what you are doing is the equivalent of eating one cup of 1830’s London poorhouse gruel per day. Imagine a watery oatmeal paste with so much salt in it that you can taste nothing but the salt and texture. One cup a day will leave you very hungry.

Then some Christian offers you Heaven. If you accept, you are invited to an all you can eat gruel buffet! Three levels of salt: regular, extra salty, or super salty. You also have a choice between regular, extra pasty, or extra watery. Doesn’t that sound appetizing? Is it any wonder people aren’t excited about getting saved?

Does this sound like having life more abundantly? Jesus doesn’t just want us to have full bellies, he wants us to have good food. Don’t settle for spiritual gruel. There is prime rib over there, roasted potatoes next to the sweet corn, and even brussel sprouts (for those of us who think they’re great with butter, salt, and pepper). Pies are on the desert isle next to the cakes and soft-serve ice cream. There’s roast turkey, roast beef, chicken, hot wings, ham, bacon, everything you could imagine. I’ll be digging into the lasagna myself.

What Jesus came to bring us was not something that would leave us unchanged, or getting more of the same old stuff. We were dead, not because we were starving, but because we were consuming the wrong things in our lives. We have been given the Spirit of God. He instructs us, He empowers us, He guides us. We are to experience Joy in trouble, not grumbling in good times. We are offered miraculous gifts of the Spirit, not a lifetime of impossible struggles.

Too many Christians are dragging through life as if they were zombies, neither truly dead nor truly alive. It is time to have LIFE and have it MORE ABUNDANTLY!

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