Saturday, March 08, 2008

LIFE is our Goal...

Talked with some friends the other day about John particular, the Greek word perissos, which we translate as "abundant life" or "life to the full." The word actually means life that is "superabundant (in quantity), superior (in quality), extravagant and beyond measure." Holy definitions, Batman! Now that's LIFE.

So I asked these folks to share, "where are you experiencing perissos life right now?" And we talked about where we have it, where we don't, where we pretend to have it or pretend not to. And one theme in the conversation that really surprised me was this tendency many of us have to downplay or dilute our expression of perissos life so as not to make others "uncomfortable" or to avoid feeling different from them. It was fascinating to me that even when this sort life--this superabundant, superior, extravagant, beyond measure LIFE--is truly alive and resonating in us, we are tempted...okay, I am not relax fully into it or abandon myself to it, and certainly not to express it in an unbridled way, a raw unfiltered emotional way, in front of other people. My friend Neo was there and commented that hiding our joy in this way is a normal social reaction. When one person gets an A on an exam, and learns that his friend got a D, he naturally tries to avoid telling the D-guy that he got an A. We don't want to seem to be boasting or to make others feel "one down" in their relationship with us.

And yet, it is this very abandonment to LIFE that draws the weary and the hungry and the willing to the Wellspring of Living Water within us! It's the LIFE within us, expressed through us, that invites them to drink deeply of His joy, His freedom, His life resonate and alive in us...and find that life for themselves. It is the radical joy of Christ--exquisitely present & unleashed through us--that captures the hearts of those around us and invites them to know Him.

"Don't Hold Back," right? Yeah, it's all coming together.

This also goes back to a question I had around something Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy--that Christ concealed his joy from us while he was here in the flesh. I asked, why would he do that? Perhaps the answer lies in the amazing attractive quality fo Christ's joy. If his joy had been unveiled, its power might well have drawn people to him so powerfully that they would rebel against Rome and fight to establish him as an earthly king. But that was not the plan...the plan was for Christ to die, and then for us to become the conduits through which his joy and LIFE are unleashed on the world.

How awesome to think that our call, our mandate as Christ-followers, is to abandon ourselves to the Life-To-The-Full he came to offer, to dive into it headlong as to a powerful river, and let it take us, helpless and free, wherever it wants to go.

Stop resisting life, indeed.

"We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—even of silence—by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse…I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you."-
Annie Dillard


Anonymous said...

This quote from Annie Dillard - Which of her works is it from?

BTW I love your picture at the beginning of the blog piece...:)

Anonymous said...

(The wheels are turning...;)) You speak in terms of action. Abandon...this is not an action that you think of engaging in when you want to gain something. (In my mind anyway...)And abandon to what? LIFE? What is that really? I came across this definition of LIFE or zwy..."[ζωή (zōē 2222) is life in all its manifestations, from the life of God down to the life of the lowest vegetable. It is necessarily active; it cannot be inert. In its essence or nature it is ever the same, and different only in its developments or manifestations. Each living person or thing has that portion of it which is needful for his or its designed position or purpose. Its one only source is God, who is "the living One". We live only in and by His life. He originates and sustains life in all by giving it out of Himself. "In Him we live and move, and have our being"."
Our mandate, being to abandon or release ourselves to this LIFE so that we can choose to release this LIFE through us, and by doing so, the fullness of this LIFE overflows in superabundance, superior quality, extravagance and beyond measure (perissos), is mind blowing...If we, as Christians, truely took this to heart and allowed the power of LIFE to unashamedly flow...we would be a force to contend with (spiritually speaking) and the beauty of it would draw others to LIFE as well. We would find our purpose in this action and fulfillment would only feed the joy of living...I am ashamed to say, I too, fall too shy to release the fullness of Christ in my life for others to see...Holding back is definitely more dignified in our society, self restraint, control...wait...pride (ego) protection...I see the spiral continuing downward...
Like you suggest, the only way to actually live LIFE is to live abiding in Christ, or rather, abandoning ourselves to Christ and all He has for us...hmmm – You, dear Michael, have given me lots to ponder...