During one of my quiet times with The Lord last week I found myself whispering during prayer, “Lord, life with you is just so much better.” This wasn’t some strange, unknown affection for me. It wasn’t the first time I’ve whispered this to Jesus during the stillness of the early morning and it certainly will not be the last. Because I’m not waiting until heaven to be happy, and I don’t think Jesus wants me to wait either.
The reason I feel led to make this reflection is because sometimes I think Christians only think about eternal life, as in heaven. To the extent that we forget that Jesus has invited us to be happy now. Yes, right now in the present moment.
Just consider what Jesus tells His disciples in John 10 when revealing to them that He is the Door for the sheep (verse 9) and also the Good Shepherd (verse 11).
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Now I think there are two points that can easily be drawn from this text. It doesn’t need to be difficult. There are two persons here whom you can know. One is described as the thief who is mentioned earlier in this chapter as one who doesn’t enter by the door “but climbs in another way.” This thief is deceptive, malicious, and against your happiness. Jesus plainly says this thief has one agenda, “to steal and kill and destroy.” Do you know this thief? I think he shows up in many forms and uses many weapons. He shows up in moments of suffering and presses the thorns down. He lures you to temptation with empty joyless promises and half-truths. He flaunts your failures before you and does all that he can to rob you of any joy. Be aware for his deceptive invitations are laced with malicious intent to rob you of joy and life itself.
But then we hear the invitation from Jesus. His intentions are good. His agenda is glorious. His promises are true and overflowing with joy. He came that they (His sheep) may have life and have it abundantly. It’s that word abundantly that sticks to my heart. The Greek transliterated word there is perissos. It seems to be a comparative word that expresses the idea of superior in quality. I really think there is a practical way to say that. Here it is: life is just better with Jesus. Yes, eternity will be absolutely too magnificent for human language to express adequately. But the present moment, for disciples of Jesus, should be better too.
So, can I get practical for a moment? How can you begin to take hold of this invitation to abundant life in the here and now? It’s not by pursuing the treasures and trinkets this world offers. Abundant life will not come through the thief. It only comes through the Door from the Good Shepherd. Therefore, I think the answer is amazingly simple: Deepen your relational knowledge of The Good Shepherd. Notice, I said relational knowledge. That’s a problem many seem to struggle with. Listen, a relationship with The Lord doesn’t just involve your head, it also involves (and I think to a greater extent) the heart. Jesus doesn’t want to just fill your head with intellectual knowledge about theology, doctrine, and church history. You could be a smart Christian and still be a sad Christian. Don’t think that I am encouraging biblical ignorance either. I’m just pointing out that Jesus isn’t just after your aptitude, He also calls for your affections. That is why Jesus invites you to be happy and to live abundantly.
So, tomorrow morning or evening when you open up your Bible. Yes, dig out the theology by all means. Carve out the context for certain. But don’t forget to actually hear The Holy Spirit as He reveals Himself to you. Let those words resonate in your heart. Don’t forget to sing a praise in prayer to Jesus. Don’t let the present moment pass away without whispering, “Lord, life is just so much better with you.”
Oh, eternity with Jesus will be far better than our minds can even fathom. But until He calls you home, go and be happy and serve His Kingdom for the glory of His name.