Are you living life to the fullest?
Jesus said that he came so that we could live life to the fullest, or abundantly (John 10:10). When I was growing up in a galaxy far, far away, I learned that this was about the incredible life we could have in kingdom of heaven some day when God called us home and we’re finished passing through this miserable world.
I don’t believe that anymore, and haven’t for a long time.
I hear Jesus telling us that the kingdom of God is near, at hand, close to us (Mark 1:14). Right here.
I hear Jesus calling us to live smack in the middle of kingdom themes: love, forgiveness, justice, mercy. And life.
Jesus came to bring us life. He came to restore our broken connections with God, each other, and ourselves. And I think those of us who believe in the truth and glory of Jesus can do a better job at living.
We think life is not surrendering any ground to death, the great enemy. And we think being healthy is not being sick, much less dead. In an age of medical technology that truly works wonders, we take pills and undergo procedures and spend an awful lot of energy fighting death.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not disparaging modern medicine. I once had a procedure done on my heart that used to be life-threatening open heart surgery and now is an outpatient procedure where you go home and sleep in your own bed and go back to work in three days. It changed the quality of my life more than I can calculate.
But more and more I lean toward the idea that instead of scrambling against the leading causes of death, we ought to be embracing the leading causes of life. A few years ago I read a book called The Leading Causes of Life by Gary Gunderson (with Larry Pray). Gunderson, a listened-to voice in the field of health and faith, lays out five leading causes of life that affect both physical and spiritual health.
- Connection—we are not meant to be alone; we are meant to be connected to God and others.
- Coherence—our life tells a story of belonging and meaning.
- Agency—we need the capacity to take action to answer a call.
- Blessing—this is a way of life that leads to wholeness, not how much stuff we have.
- Hope—we believe that meaning transcends our circumstances and suffering, whether mild or extreme.
Research shows that if we have these features in our life, we are less likely to succumb to the leading causes of death—heart disease, stroke, obesity and so on. As people of faith it should not surprise us that body and spirit communicate back and forth in both directions.
Are you seeking abundant life—life to the fullest that God wants for us to experience? Let me leave you with three questions to ponder.
- What are you doing to promote your own spiritual and physical health?
- What are you doing to promote the wellness of people close to you?
- What are you doing to promote the wholeness of people you don’t even know?
We live life to the fullest when as the people of God living in the kingdom of God we carry each other to the fullness of God.
Olivia Newport is a novelist whose books twist through time and discover where faith and passions meet. Her titles include The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, Accidentally Amish, and the forthcoming In Plain View.
You can connect with Olivia via her website!