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Friday, September 25, 2009

Abundant Life . . . In the Meantime

Several years ago, I attended a Sunday school class that was studying Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. In this book, Eldredge discusses the fullness of life God promises believers in Scripture. For instance, Eldredge references John 10:10 in which Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV), or have “it more abundantly” (KJV). Eldredge writes how this promise of life is much more than eternal life. He observes that focusing solely on how our life in Christ relates to eternal life overlooks an important part of what life in Christ means: “It’s like saying getting married means, ‘Because I’ve given you this ring, you will be taken care of in your retirement.’ And in the meantime? Isn’t there a whole lot more to the relationship in the meantime?” (page 11 (emphasis in original)). Indeed.

As many of us have heard, Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. And in that relationship, our life is much more than about getting the prize of eternal life. We are to cultivate, deepen, enjoy our relationship with God and others each day in order to experience the abundant life God promises us. I think that Christian law students are lawyers may struggle in focusing on the “now” in our walk with God more than other believers. Many of us are “task-oriented” who often worry about the things on our to-do list. We therefore find it difficult to stop and smell the roses because we are too busy to get to the next thing on our list. In some ways, we reflect the tendency of Martha to be preoccupied with the tasks before us, and we do not enjoy basking in the presence of the Lord (see Luke 10:38-42).

I know I have that tendency. This point was brought home to me the year after I graduated from law school. That year, I was working as a judicial clerk in my home state of South Carolina. I knew that I would only be in the town of my clerkship for a year as I had taken a position with a law firm in D.C. for the following year. When I met people at church or at other events, I would often let it be known that I was only in town for a year. One of my friends called me on that and reminded me that I was overlooking the relationships God was giving me at that time and instead was only focusing on what was to come. I needed to remember that God had plans for me each day; and in the end, during that year, the Lord blessed me with relationships with some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to remember that in the meantime our lives should be “abundant,” and not simply focused on accomplishment or achievement. The Greek word translated as “to the full” or “abundantly” in John 10:10 is perissos, which can also be translated “superior, extraordinary, surpassing” (from A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer). I do not think Christians are known in the world as having “superior” lives, but that is what God promises us! We need to take time to enjoy the blessings of the Lord and not worry about tomorrow (see Matthew 6:25-34). Of course, God calls us to plan and be good stewards of the gifts he has given us. But we also should relish in the peace and joy of being a child of God. What an amazing thing it would be if we Christian law students and lawyers could model that peace and joy for the rest of the legal community.

~ Associate Dean Natt Gantt, Regent University School of Law

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