It happened somewhere between 1999 to 2001. I remember it so distinctly. This particular sentence kept haunting me for days on end. I knew it was a scripture verse from the new testament. But, this was back in the day when we didn’t really have internet and the only way to find a verse was rummage through the pages of ye old Bible. It kept gnawing at me at night, disconcerting me during the day, continuously disturbing me. So I just had to find it. Well, each of us had our personal Bibles at home. Mine has always been the most dexterously embellished one with highlights, markings and all sorts of notes that would repulse the orderly. But it seemed like a difficult task to look for one sentence in such a huge book. So I delegated 😉 I asked my mom and told her it was imperative to find this verse. My mom asked few friends too. Weeks passed; it just kept bothering me so much…I’m not going to narrate the entire story now; this verse is just remarkably special to me.
1John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Some translations of the Bible use these words instead. ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full./ My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life./ I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.’ To me, it seems like God wants us to have a holistically nourishing and fulfilling life experience which is only possible through harmony with all the four categories of relationships people have, namely:
The structure and dynamics of your relationship with (or refusal of a relationship /acknowledgement of) God forms the premise for every other relationship you nurture and maintain/sever. You will find it very cumbersome to maintain all other relationships if you do not have a relationship with God. Yes, yes structured prayers are great and serve a purpose too. Formalities and sacrifices, our mere attendance at religious events and the obligations we fulfill are just a guideline, like a map to achieving a personal, real relationship with God. Let’s keep the egos aside and admit humanity is actually so hungry for God. We need the grace of God. Our life is meaningless without His presence. Once you develop a relationship with God, just like you interact with and treat a friend or a parent (or however your dynamics with God is)….that is what God yearns for. That is what every human soul yearns for. Many people keep away from this relationship because they either do not credit His existence or they subconsciously fear what all they will have to sacrifice if they really find Him. Well, I cannot really sugarcoat it; it is true : the closer you get to finding God, your path becomes more and more difficult. It’s just directly proportional. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10. Surely there is a mine for silver and a place where they refine gold. Iron is taken from the dust and copper is smelted from rock. – Job 28:1-2. Refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. – Zechariah 13:9. So where’s the carrot, after all that purging?! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33.” What will? Now, here’s the carrot :
Eternal life – victory over death and freedom from the bondage of sin.
Love – reveling in the calmness and security of God’s unconditional love and the ability to reciprocate and attempt to emulate that selfless love.
Peace – that comes from the knowledge that God is in control, even in the midst of a storm.
Joy – not the kind that comes from entertainment and tangible things, wealth or status etc, but true joy that is not momentary or dependent on external factors.
You see, here lies the confusion. These goodies do not come to us because of our association with the church or the good deeds we do or the obligations we fulfill. They come as a package deal through our personal relationship with God. The more effort/energy/time you spend exploring this arena, the more goodies you are bound to receive. I’m not saying God is to be treated as Santa Claus or some genie. But, if you take a close look at the goodies I listed, you’ll see…God is the creator of life; God is the definition of love. God is the author of peace and God is the promoter of joy. If you come close to the source of all this, how can you not contract even some of it?! Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4. Have you ever been ecstatic, encompassed in the love of God that nothing else mattered? that the burdens of reality were still unable to perturb you? Life in abundance is just an effect. The cause is being in harmony with God. Now here’s some tough love : you cannot be in harmony with God without seeking His righteousness. You cannot walk with God holding hands with the devil. Phew! that seems impossible now, doesn’t it? But God does not seek perfection in you. He only desires your effort, your desire, your willingness, your heart. As long as you’re genuinely trying, God is delighted.
What about having a great relationship with oneself? Well, yes self respect and love for oneself is very important. God is love.- 1John 4:8. Once God fills you with His spirit and His love, you must love yourself, appreciate the splendid creation that you are – God’s own masterpiece. Desire to grow, develop your true potential, albeit with an awareness of your responsibilities as a child of God. Yes, God wants to fulfill your temporal desires too. Ask and you shall receive.- Matthew 7:7. But, if you are in harmony with God, you will not ask for things contradictory to God’s essence. So, if your temporal desires involve seeking revenge or blinding adulation, you need to work on your relationship with God….and seeking his righteousness because if you’re in harmony with God, you will at least attempt to resist these urges of the flesh.
What about your family? They probably don’t understand the seemingly mental behaviour of communicating with an invisible entity. Well, God wants you to share His love, beginning with the ones closest to you. Let His love radiate and fill them all, quench their thirst, filling the void. So, am I suggesting you give a holier-than-thou speech every other day at home? Of course not, what makes you so high and mighty!? Rather, let God’s love reflect in your demeanor. As God changes you gradually, they will see His love, peace, joy, strength scintillating through you. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your family.
Okay, so your’e not a rookie! You already have a seemingly-fulfilling relationship with God. Your temporal needs are met. You have a beautiful house, a coveted job, you lack nothing good and your family is the paragon of virtue. You’re living it up! But, does it end there? Can you hide in the awesomeness of your perfect life? Let’s talk about the fourth category of relationships – others. Everyone has a few mortal enemies that deserve to be publicly disgraced, then tortured ruthlessly every single moment of their despicable lives that they beg for death, but even death rebukes them. No?….hmm…interesting!…I guess it’s just me then 😉 But God wants you to go out into the world and spread His peace, love and joy. The world is famished and yearns for the grace of God. Be a light that shines; share your joy. Reflect the love of your creator, your father. There are some who are called to be preachers and missionaries. But, for most of us – don’t preach the light; be the light. This is the fulfillment of ‘life in all its fullness’. None of this is possible without developing a personal, intimate, real relationship with God FIRST.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. – John 1:5
No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. – Matthew 5:15
Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the LORD rises to shine on you. – Isaiah 60:1
The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out. – Proverbs 13:9
If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” – Luke 11:36
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself. – Ephesians 5:13
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. – Isaiah 9:2. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. – Daniel 2:22
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. – Proverbs 4:18
Light shines on the righteous; gladness on the morally upright. – Psalm 97:11
Watch this space for more… I will be writing a post on how to develop a right relationship with oneself soon.
Wishing you blessings of life in abundance,