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Having Life to the Fullest


By Ted Schroder April 11, 2004

Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Easter is about Jesus overcoming the thief of death so that he might give us life to the fullest.

You would think that anyone who lived on Amelia Island or who visited here was experiencing life to the fullest. Most of you are enjoying the good life. You have most everything that anyone would want in the world: good homes, good families, good jobs, good incomes, good looks, good health. You've got the worldly goods. The rest of the world looking at us this morning would think that we have life to the fullest.

But what if there was something more than just a material description of the good life? What if there was a fuller life beyond material prosperity? What if you were missing out on something that you didn't even know about? What if God intended more than just a good life for you but intended a fuller life? Wouldn't you want to experience it? Of course you would, and so would I.

We often settle for less because we don't know that there's anything better. We often settle just for this earthly life because we think that there is nothing else. I was born and raised in New Zealand. When Europeans first came to New Zealand, the native Maori people were cannibals. Apart from birds, the only meat they ate was human. It took Captain Cook letting loose some pigs into the country in 1769 to help them to see that there was a better diet. It took missionaries preaching the Gospel of Christ to change their minds about the sacredness of the human body. I have a framed portion of Ezekiel 37:1-14 in my office that was printed in the Maori language in 1840 to persuade the Maoris against practicing cannibalism: "Son of man, can these bones live?" The Spirit entered the bones and made them live again. There is something better than earthly extinction that God has in store for us. He wants us to experience the resurrection of the body to eternal life.

I believe that God brought you here today to Amelia Island on Easter Sunday so that he could let you in on a secret. There is something better. There is much more than the good, material life. You were made for more than just the good, material life - looking good, feeling good, having the goods. God wants you to have life to the fullest forever. Beneath the image of the good life there are things nobody likes to talk about. There are thieves.

The thief of materialism, (living for this world only), comes to steal and kill and destroy. No matter how hard you try to satisfy yourself that the life you live is worthwhile through constant activities, never-ending shopping, daily maintenance of your bodies and your possessions, preoccupation with career, business and the news, or finding escape through leisure, entertainment or travel, the enjoyment is temporary, momentary, fleeting. The rush of happiness is succeeded by the need to repeat it until you feel that you are on a treadmill that requires more and more effort to maintain the illusion of happiness. We feel trapped by our circumstances. When tragedy strikes: accidents or sicknesses, we find that the material, good life does not provide us with the resources we need to cope and to have hope. The material, good life steals hope from us, The material good life kills contentment. The material good life destroys lasting fulfillment.

Sofia Coppola's recent movie, Lost In Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson, explores the banality, and the emptiness of modern, multicultural materialism. Everything is glitz, marketing a product, game shows, video arcades. The two main characters are bored, can't sleep, and long for intimacy and the warmth of genuine, authentic, personal relationships. Their marriages and families promise so much and yet fail to deliver when needed.

I've got good news for you today. There's an antidote to such a view of life.. It's called having life to the fullest. The reason God brought you here today is so you can learn about having life to the fullest. St. Paul said that if you knew the resurrection love of Christ you would "be filled to the measure of the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19) What does this life offer us?

1. Life with meaning and purpose.

The greatest tragedy in life is not death. It's to go through life without knowing your purpose. Americans have indicated their need for having purpose in their lives by making Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life, a best seller. It has sold millions of copies. He and his readers recognize that the material good life is not enough. Looking good, feeling good, having the goods is not enough to make you happy. If that were true Amelia Island would be the happiest place in the world, but it's not. It takes more than money to have life with meaning and purpose. To have life to the fullest, you need meaning and purpose.##~3~##So we search for meaning in all kinds of different ways. There's nothing wrong with the things we fill our life with. It's just that they don't last, and they are often self-centered. We need something that gives us eternal meaning. Where do we get that? There's only one place - from the God that raises Jesus Christ from the dead and gives eternal life to those who come to him in faith.

God gave you life, and he wants to give you life in all its fullness. You didn't make yourself. Your life is completely dependent on God's will. In him we live and move and have our being. Until you understand that you were made by God to fulfill his purpose, life is not going to make sense. And until you understand what is God's will for your life, you can't have life in all its fullness.

St. Peter said this: "Because Jesus was raised from the dead [that's what Easter is all about] we've been given a brand new life. We have everything to live for including a future in heaven and that future starts now." (1 Peter 1:3,4)

This fullness of life is connected to what Jesus did at Easter. His overcoming the thief of death that steals, kills, and destroys, with a new life enables us, who follow him, to have life to the fullest.

This fullness of life is not just an addition to your old life, something you just tack on. It's a whole, new deal. It's brand new. God says to us at Easter, "I want to give you a chance to start over. I want to give you a chance to begin again. I want to give you a new kind of life - a full life."

Golfers love Mulligans. When they take their first shot off the tee, and it gets lost in a terrible slice or hook - your partner may give you a Mulligan - a free, second shot. They don't count the first one against you. God came in Jesus to give you a free, second shot at life. All the dumb things that you've done in the past and you regret, and wish that you had done or said differently: dumb decisions, dumb mistakes, sins, faults, failures, whatever you want to call them - God says, I will erase them through the Cross, and you can start over again. Why don't you begin a brand new life - why don't you have life to the fullest? I will take take your guilt upon me, and wipe it out. Begin again. Start over.

How do you get this brand new life? God gives it to us as a gift of grace - undeserved yet freely given because he loves us and wants us to find our way to him and to what he wants us to become.

Living for yourself doesn't bring happiness to either you, or the people you live and work with. You weren't made by God to live for yourself. You were made to live for God. When you start following Christ, and living for him, you discover real happiness, real meaning, real significance, real purpose, real value to your life. When you live for Christ, you're plugged in to God. That gives you meaning, that gives you significance, that gives you purpose, that gives you wealth that lasts. Life to the fullest is priceless in value.

2. Life that is full of energy.

Jon Gordon of Jacksonville has written "Become an Energy Addict". It includes over 100 simple, powerful ways to increase your mental, physical, and emotional energy. He operates a website in which he recommends a variety of exercises to increase your energy, including prayers. It is a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. Recently he has been suggesting ways that will increase happiness, compassion, removal of worry and anger, and enhancement of trust. He provides diets that will fuel energy, and physical exercises that will renew energy. We know that a proper balance of good food, exercise, spiritual meditation and work will provide us with a positive mental attitude.

Physical fitness is part of the good life today. Fitness clubs are booming throughout the country. Millions either begin or end their working day at one of the gyms or in their own exercise room. Exercise affects the body and alters our attitude to life. But we need more than physical energy to live life to the fullest. We need energy for healthy relationships. We need power to love people, to forgive people, to trust people, to care for people. We need spiritual energy to handle cancer, and other diseases. We need energy to deal with business and family problems. We need divine energy to deal with aging. We can't run on our own batteries all the time.

The New Testament talks about God's "incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead." (Ephesians 1:19,20)

The power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us. It is for us. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that the thief that steals, kills and destroys our life energy has been defeated, and we can have that incomparably great power if we believe. Incomparably means extraordinary, outstanding, surpassing - there is no comparison: "endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from the dead and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule." (Ephesians 1:19-21 Peterson)

That power is available to you for all your life. It is the power of faith, hope and love. Each of us has a choice in life. We can go through the rest of our lives, living the good, material life, disconnected from this resurrection power, or we can live life to the fullest plugged into God's power. It's our choice. Whichever we choose we are still going to have problems, because life is a series of problems and challenges. This difference is that with the resurrection power of Christ in your life, you will have energy which you would not have on your own power. Christ gives you this power of faith, hope and love on a day to day basis as you connect with him.

What is your need this Easter? Are you tired and worn out? Are you on edge? Do you feel discouraged? Do you feel like giving up on your marriage, your job, your school, your health, your family, your goals, your dreams, and your ambitions? Don't give up? Look up to the risen Christ and say, "Lord, I need to start living for you and not just for me. I need your resurrection energy to do what you have put me on earth to do, to fulfill your purpose for my life. I need your gift of life to the fullest."

(Acknowledgments to Rick Warren for material from "Living the Better Life." )

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