Summary: the central part of a life of fullness is a life of love.
Get On The Right Road: Matt 7:13-14
Sept 10, 2006
“The secret to happiness is short-term, stupid self-interest” – Calvin.
When we hear it put that blatantly, it really does sound ridiculous! And yet, that is how many people in our culture live – for short-term, self-interest.
So if that is not the secret, what is it? Well, I’d like to take out Calvin’s word, “happiness”, and replace it with another word, a much better word, a much deeper word, a word that Jesus used: it is the word, “life”.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Let me back up from there for just a moment, and ask this question: “why did Jesus come?” Most of us would respond with “He came to die on the cross”, which was certainly a central part of Jesus’ coming to earth. But it is not how Jesus described why He came. His response was not about death at all, in fact it was about the opposite: Jesus came to bring life.
And not just mundane, humdrum, yadda yadda yadda, trudging through kind of life, but deep life. Real life. Vibrant, beautiful, melodic, hopeful, joyful, honest, life. Life in every good sense of the word. Jesus described the reason why He came as bringing life, to the full. And today, I want you to know that it really is possible.
5 Week Journey
For the next 5 weeks, I want to invite you on a journey to discover what this life looks like, where it begins, and how to live it.
You see, Jesus is not here talking about heaven – He is not saying “I have come so that you might, after you die, find out what real life is. Just muddle through this pathetic earthly life, and then you will find the good stuff…” NO! Jesus didn’t live like that, He didn’t teach like that, He didn’t die and rise again for that. The opposite is true – Jesus is saying that we can live in that life NOW. In fact, very little of the Bible talks about the next life, the vast majority of it talks about this life, how to live it, how to treat one another, what our priorities should be, and what things to stay away from because they will suck the life out of us and bring us to death.
And at the heart, we discover that the central part of a life of fullness is a life of love. Now, while I’ll gladly throw out the word “happiness” and replace it with “life”, I will fight to win the word “love” back from the Hallmark card people, the sappy romanticists, and the non-confrontationalists – I’ll fight to get back to a true meaning of the word “love” – which is not about making people happy, or feel nice, or keeping them from being upset! The love we seek is a force so powerful that it refuses to allow anything to suck life out of another human being: it is a force that goes to war: that battles discouragement with encouragement, hopelessness with life, poverty with provision, boredom with purpose, isolation with belonging, independence with interdependence, even death itself with new life. The love we seek is tough, strong, unshakeable, permanent, rooted in the very character of the God of the universe, and experienced in us as God’s children.
Over the next 5 week journey, we’ll see that a life of Godly love is the only road to the kind of life Jesus said He came to bring - fullness of life. I’ve titled the series, A Life of Love: God’s Road to Fullness. It comes out of our identity statement as a church – that we “joyfully place relationships of love ahead of every other consideration” – and my conviction that the only road to fullness of life is through developing those relationships, and then joyfully choosing to make them our highest priority.
The Journey Begins:
Where does this road begin? Let’s listen again to Jesus: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:13-14). Jesus spoke these words near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and He tells us where the journey to life begins.
It is a great metaphor – two roads: one wide, spacious, broad, and therefore easy to travel. Sort of like the Whitemud freeway at 11pm. The other road is small, narrow, and therefore much more difficult to travel. Sort of like the parkade at the U of A Hospital.