I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)
What does it mean to live life to the full, to live the good life? Every time we turn on the TV or radio or flip through a magazine, we hear from numerous corporations who are eager to suggest how we can get the most out of life. Credit card companies advise us to live richly and suggest that the key to a good life is what’s in your wallet. Fast food restaurants encourage us to think that we should have it our way, right away. Participants in reality TV shows like Extreme Makeover believe that their dreams will come true and that they will finally be able to live their lives because they weigh less or have straighter teeth, smoother skin, a smaller nose, or a bigger chin. Contestants on other shows believe that their lives will finally be fulfilled if they can just win that million dollars or the chance to be the next American Idol.
Yet even when we get more, as TMobile suggests, we can find ourselves asking, is this all there is? The people who seem to have it all are not exempt from feelings of worthlessness or discontent, as the news clips on the breakups of celebrities families and their admissions of problems with substance abuse or depression demonstrate. King Solomon was a celebrity of his time who had it all–international fame, unbelievable wealth, a spectacular houseand yet, in the book of Ecclesiastes, he records his thoughts about such achievements: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 1:14).

Such a sense of world-weariness can wear away at our well being and affect our relationships with other people as well as with God. Sometimes, having more is part of the problem rather than the solution. It is perhaps no coincidence that depression is being diagnosed at an alarming rate in America, which is one of the richest countries in the world–even the poorest Americans often have more than those who are considered wealthy in other nations. Clearly, having more is not the key to living the good life!

The early church father Augustine of Hippo was infamous for his wild youth, which he spent pursuing happiness in various worldly ventures. Yet he ultimately came to the conclusion that satisfaction cannot be found in any of these, nor in any worldly philosophies. In a line from his Confessions that has become famous, he admitted to God, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”. When Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b), He was talking ultimately about eternal life. Certainly, we find peace even amid hardship because of the assurance of the eternal life we will experience after this earthly life. Yet when we approach all of life through the perspective of the Gospel, we will have life to the full in another way–our happiness and sense of fulfillment will not be eroded by the constant need to get more in the form of worldly possessions and goods. Rather, we can enjoy Gods good gifts of creation as blessings that can contribute to rather than control our happiness. No matter what is (or isn’t!) in your wallet, no matter how big your nose or small your chin, no matter if the world never appreciates your musical talent, you can live your life to the full as what you were designed to be: God’s dearly loved child.

We  pray: Lord, thank you for the many good blessings I enjoy in my life. I confess that it is all too easy to become distracted by them and to focus on getting more of them instead of more of a relationship with You and other people. This can sometimes lead me to feeling discontented and even depressed. Remind me at such times that it is in You that I can find the fullness of life, the good life. Thank you, Lord, for the promise of eternal life–of the good life with you, forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.