This was very difficult to write and it started looking like a thesis before I canned it and rewrote (as a result there will be some gaps and holes). I write it because God led me through it soon after my emergence from hospital as a shell of my former self. I’m still learning how to live it, but back then in 2012 I was asking ‘how does abundance squeeze into my restricted, disabled future?’ It comes from the words that Jesus said in John 10 v 10:
‘I am come that they might have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows’ (Amplified version).
Full and abundantly overflowing life – I’ll give that a go anytime! It’s fairly clear, don’t you think? Inspiring, uplifting and full of hope. But how can it be true when your life falls apart? Honestly, it seemed an unlikely pathway and so I was prompted to start looking at the word ‘life’ in the gospels – what else did Jesus say about life?
I was struck dumb (a huge blessing to my family) by the absolute clarity of what Jesus said. No confusion here peeps! So here we go, seat-belts on please.
Jesus used 3 words for life, not just the one that the English language reduces it to. In the Greek used by the gospel writers, they are bios, psuche and zoe. The bullets below outline what they mean:
- Bios – our physical and material life
- Psuche – the life of our mind, will and emotion, our soul, our earthly ‘identity’ (whatever that means!). I would say it’s closely tied to our mental health.
- Zoe – God’s life obtained through Jesus – eternal, flows out of our relationship and interaction with God. It does not rely on bios or psuche, neither does it utterly ignore or condemn them.
(interestingly, the first 2 have crept into the English language in the form of biology and pyche/psychology, but zoe has not)
The overwhelming view within today’s western culture seems to view life from a worldly perspective, where the pinnacle is some form of self-fulfilment. Within that, there may well be a recognition of spiritual needs, but zoe doesn’t fit because God has a totally different view. Take a good look at what Jesus said about these 3 parts of life
(all the references are here):
Jesus didn’t use this word very much, with a mention in the parable of the sower (Luke 8) where the seed that fell amongst thorns was choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this life, this bios. Jesus also warned about riches and how hard it is for rich people to enter God’s Kingdom, He asked the rich ruler to give his possessions away, He told His disciples not to worry about what we eat, drink or wear and to store up treasures in heaven.
But bios was also used to mean our livelihood, and Jesus commended the widow who gave all she had, all her bios.
I would sum up bios as not a very important part of our Christian life! It is not a sin in itself, but can so easily distract us (I’m preaching to myself here!) from God – give it away if it does!
Jesus had much more to say about psuche, about our soul-ish and mental lifestyle and ambitions – it hit me like a body punch when I saw how He spoke about it! Basically: don’t worry about it, lay it down, don’t love it, hate it – give it up for Him! That’s what Jesus did as He gave His life as a ransom for many, and our Good Shepherd laid it down for us, His sheep. When Jesus’ psuche was deeply troubled at Gethsemane, He submitted to His Father’s will.
There’s an answer to the world’s heavy problems of stress, anxiety and depression – take Jesus’ yoke upon you, for He is gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your psuche. Can I imagine being free from those things? Well lay it down Popeye, and take up Jesus’ yoke, and then, only then, it will be well with my soul.
But it doesn’t end there, and this is a huge encouragement that yelled at me as I was trying to pull this together, because Jesus then goes on to say: lose it & you’ll find it,lay it down & you’ll save it, hate it and you’ll keep it for eternal life (zoe!). If I want my mental health to be built on the Rock, then Jesus is crystal clear – He’s not saying ignore it, forget about it leave it alone, but lay it down for Him and you’ll get it back big time! Come on!!!! Why hadn’t I worked this out in 2015 when I was seriously depressed? I’d spoken about it twice in 2012 (men’s weekend and church) but it had not reached my heart. My prayer is that it reaches yours a bit faster!
Here we go sky high and beyond. Brace yourself for this is where the G-Force kicks in. Jesus used this word for life the most out of the 3, because this was the Life He came to bring to us:
This Life is in the Father and in the Son and God so loved us that He gave His Son, Jesus, so that we can have it – Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and this Life, Jesus who is the Resurrection and this Life, Jesus who is the Bread of this Life, the Light of this Life and Jesus whose zoe Life is a well-spring of living water, abundant, overflowing and eternal. We can only find it by believing in Him, and with the righteousness obtained through that belief we are guaranteed to be free from condemnation.
If we want Light on our journey follow Him, follow Him down the narrow road, not the wide easy boulevard the world offers. This Life is not dependent on possessions or relationships, but it’s so abundant it’s better to enter maimed or blind than miss it.
That speaks right into my heart – healed or not, I have abundant, overflowing, eternal Life. Holy Spirit, challenge me and help me to live in it on the bad days.
I don’t think I need to write any more.