Video clip… what do you want more of?
This morning we are starting a sermon series called “More”. And in this series I hope we will discover that living for more is not a new thing; that the desire for more is not a bad thing; and that God wants to fulfill our desire for more.
There are a stack of articles news and research-based that show how the pursuit of happiness backfires. For example Psychologist Iris Mauss at the University of California, Berkley found that the pursuit of happiness might just leave you worse off. She said, “Wanting to be happy can make you less happy” and “If you explicitly and purposely focus on happiness, that appears to have a self-defeating quality.” Her two research studies, which focused on women because social scientists have found that men have higher rates of concealing emotions (great truism: feelings are to men like salads are to a braai), consistently found that the more you focus on attaining happiness, the worse your outcomes will be.
So could it be that your pursuits of happiness in your career, or relationships, or experiences, or bank account… is that very thing that will end up making you unhappy. If that is the case that it would be a complete paradigm shift in the focus of your life / worldview shattering.
Have you ever found yourself at the place where you have stopped (stepped out the business and craziness) and asked “isn’t there more?”, “is that all that there is?”
2. Abundant life
And the truth is that there is more. Jesus came to show us an different and fuller way.
John perceived something in Jesus that he called “life”.
And he would go on to offer us that us that life.
Meaning of the word “life”. There are three different words for life in the Greek of the NT. We have one. So when you read ‘life’ in the NT it could have one of three meanings.
This is the root word from which we get the word ‘biology’. The vast majority of the time is means the physical life that we live in the body. In the average bios life you will sleep for 250,000 hours, you will eat 76,000 meals, and you will take 200,000 trips to the bathroom (most of which will happen in the second half of your life).
Most often the New Testament translates this word as life or soul. We are not just physical beings we also have a will or heart or soul or mind and emotions. It is the Greek word from which we get our word psychological. God created us with a body (bios) and a soul (psuche) life.
So this is what happens (which is completely natural): we start thinking that life is going to be found in this bios-life. If I can satisfy and please this body then I will have life – exercise, accumulating trinkets, experiences, pornography. There has got to be more…
Or having pursued the bios-life and find it doesn’t completely satisfy you pursue the psuche-life: we think if I can just understand my own heart, master my feeling, control my impulses, find inner peace, go for counselling or therapy. Now as good as some of those things are (and they genuinely are) but they still leave u with the feeling that there has to be more. The good news…
Now this is the kind of life that John said was in Jesus and that he wants us to have; that he calls abundant life or eternal life. This life certainly includes the concept of life as body and soul but goes much further. This is the spiritual / eternal / divine life that is in God that is open to us if we come into relationship with God.
Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus says he wants us to enjoy the kind of life that will change your relationship to you past, your present and your future. The zoe-life refers to the eternal life – the kind of life that we are hardwired for, which is the reason that we ask where is the more, surely this can’t be all there is to life. It is a kind of life that he wants to give us that truly satisfies. Most of the time when people hear “eternal life” they thing about heaven and the next life only. But eternal life means right from the start to the end – right from our past to our future AND including our present. So we can experience the zoe-life = eternal life now = the life of God in us now. And that just transforms us completely.
Sculpture coming to life
C.S Lewis, most famously known for his Chronicles of Narnia really wrestled with God before he became a Christian and He wrote this in his excellent book Mere Christianity:
“The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe is Zoe. Bios has, to be sure, a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe: but only the sort of resemblance there is between a photo and a place, or statue and a man. A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man. And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going around that some of us are some day going to come to life.”
Isn’t that so helpful – there is a rumor (mystery) that there is more to life than just life. What is that life? The difference is focus: in the bios or psuche life the focus is on ourselves: on my body / mind / soul / emotions. In the zoe-life the focus is shifted to God and what he wants. And most importantly this is something that God does in us, it is supernatural. We invite him into that position in our lives and our hearts are transformed – when we chose what he wants our focus is on God and others and not simply on ourselves. And I know that may sound a bit crazy to some of you but it is the supernatural work of God’s spirit in us that our priorities become Him and others and rolling back the darkness that we see in our lives and in the world around us. This si the more that we are all looking for
In 1884 Edwin Abbott wrote a book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It was actually written as a commentary against the Victorian hierarchy, but it has a helpful part form us. The story describes a two-dimensional world occupied by geometric shapes. The narrator of the story is a square called A. Square. He lives in flat land and only knows other beings that are flat.
On New Year’s Eve the Square dreams that he visits a one-dimensional called Lineland. It is full of lines and they perceive A. Square as a line. He pities people of Lineland and the tries to convince their monarch that there is a second dimension. They just can’t comprehend a two-dimensional world. Things get violent and they try to kill A Square and his nonsense ideas.
In another dream A. Square is visited by a three-dimensional sphere called A. Sphere. Initially A. Square only perceives the sphere as a circle. A. Sphere tries to convince A. Square that there is a third dimension. The square is only fully convinced when he travels to Spaceland (a three-dimensional world). He becomes aware that there is even more to life than he could have imagined. There is depth to life.
So could it be that there are some people here who are living in a two dimensional life of bios and psuche. They are longing for more but you also feel stuck in Flatland. That is why just like it took A. Sphere coming into Flatland, so it took Jesus coming into our world to introduce us to life and life to the full, abundant and eternal life.
There has got to be more (love, joy, hope, impact)
So for the next couple of week at ECCC we are going to be digging deeper into what it means to have the full and abundant life. And I would encourage you to come back for the next couple of week. If you sense something stirring in your heart then come back for the next few week – it could be the most life changing time of your life.
We are going to draw our service to a close by going to the Lord’s Supper. There are very few things that Jesus made mandatory for the church – one of them was this meal. Why? Because it reminds us that this is not about us, it is not about coming to church or becoming a bit more spiritual or even getting a better life. It is about being transformed at your very core by a work of God in your life. This transformation is so significant it requires God’s supernatural power. That is why Jesus came – he came into our realm. Because we are stuck looking for life in bios and psuche.
I want to lead us in a prayer. You don’t have to, but if it is appropriate follow along with me: Lord I have been looking for life in the wrong places. I have tried to do it my way. But I know something is missing. I surrender my searching show me what it means to live the full life you offer.
The good news is that the rumour isn’t just a rumour! What we have lost because we placed other things first we can have restored because Jesus died on the cross…
5. Group Questions
- Psychologist Iris Mauss said, “Wanting to be happy can make you less happy” and “If you explicitly and purposely focus on happiness, that appears to have a self-defeating quality.” Have you observed this to be true in other people’s lives; and in your OWN life?
- Read John 1:1-5 and 10:10
The Greeks has three different words for life: bios, psuche and zoe. What are the differences among these three terms? What does it mean that Jesus uses zoe-life in the verses above?
- CS Lewis says, “A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man”. How does this help us understand the what it means
- Edwin Abbott’s book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions challenges us with the idea that there may be another dimension of live that we have not yet discovered. Does this story help you understand the need for Jesus to come in bodily form to this earth?
- In what areas of your life would you like to experience the full / abundant life that Christ offers?
- How does John 1:12 help us understand how we access the full/abundant/eternal life.
 Sermon series based on a series from Community Christian Church (