Summary: Jesus said, "I’ve come so that they may have life and have it to the full". This is a New Year sermon encouraging people to live life God’s way, to the full, and to live their God-given dreams.
Not many people have heard of Larry Walters. He was a 33-year-old truck driver living in San Pedro, not far from Los Angeles. On weekends he used to just sit around and watch TV. But this particular Saturday, he was bored with his usual routine, so he decided he wanted to do something. He went shopping and bought 42 weather balloons and a deck chair. Returning home, he anchored the chair to the ground with some ropes, and then tied to the weather balloons to it. When all was ready, he planted himself in the chair, with his airgun nestled in his lap. He then cut the ropes, and rose steadily into the sky. Within minutes he had attained an altitude of 16,000 feet. The air traffic control tower at LA airport reported receiving a number of garbled and incredulous messages from different pilots along the lines of, “You’re not going to believe this, but there’s a man floating up here in a deck chair!” Once Larry’s thirst for action was quenched he returned to planet Earth.
He shot some balloons with his airgun and gradually floated down. 45 minutes later he landed at Long Beach, 7 miles from where he had taken off. His excursion made front page news, resulting in a Timex Ad and TV interviews. Quizzed as to his motivation for doing it, Larry Walters replied, “It was something I had to do - I couldn’t just sit there!” He quit his job and for a while was booked to speak as a motivational guru! Sadly, after bursting on to the scene his later life was not so spectacular – quite sad in fact - but it is the fact that he fulfilled his dream that I want to focus upon.
Simon Guillebaud in his book ‘For what it’s worth’ writes: ‘There are so many people in the world who “just sit there”. This is nothing new …As an ancient sage warned, “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather that it should never have a beginning.”’ Choosing life means seizing the day, seizing the hour. As Robin Williams encouraged his students in ‘Dead Poets Society: ‘Carpe Diem’; Seize the day!
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). Yes Jesus brings eternal life – but that eternal life includes life to the full right now in this life; making the most of this life.
I’m sure most of us will have been in the car at some point and either we or someone else has asked, “Are we nearly there yet?” We get that occasionally in our car – but have you ever asked yourself that question concerning the Church? “Are we nearly there yet?” Have you ever asked that question concerning God’s mission to the world? “Are we nearly there yet?” I guess it can come from a sense of frustration. For some people it can be a reflection of their impatience with life in general; for others it can come from a real desire to see the kingdom of God breaking through in the lives of people and families, and in our town.
As 2010 begins are we nearly there yet? No, not yet; but 2010 brings the next stage of the journey.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. Who is Jesus speaking about? He is speaking about his sheep as described in John chapter 10. His ‘sheep’ are first of all the people of Israel, but in John 10:16 Jesus says he has other sheep who will listen to his voice – every person, past present and future who will respond positively to him.
So Jesus says to everyone who listens to his voice, “I have come so that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” A couple of weeks ago I received an advert asking me to subscribe to a magazine promising to deliver expert tips and advice on everything I could possibly need to feel better, healthier and happier. It promised advice on relationships, fitness, nutrition, weight-loss, travel and fashion, and it claimed that the magazine in question is everything I need in order to live a fuller life! Perhaps you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions – exercise more, eat less, eat healthy food, drink more water, do my homework etc.
And of course they’re all worthwhile because God wants us to live a healthy life, making the most of the life he has given us, and not wasting the gift of life by abusing our bodies; but “having life, and [having] it to the full” is about so much more than just me, me, me and my creaking body! It is about choosing to do life God’s way. In Deuteronomy 30 the nation of Israel had been rescued from slavery in Egypt by Moses, but they had not yet entered the Promised Land – the Land of Promise. After 40 years in the wilderness people were asking, “Are we nearly there yet?” Through Moses God said, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life …” (Deut 30:19). Choose life! Have it to the full!