Jesus says the most unexpected things. For example, 'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.' (John 10:10b)
Most of our clients would not say they were experiencing 'life to the full'. In fact, very few people I talk to - whether they are Christian or not - would claim it as their experience.
Other translations describe it as 'life in all abundance'. An impossible dream? But still, Jesus claims it as His goal, His purpose. According to Jesus, God loves you and wants you to enjoy a happy and fulfilled life.
When I repeat what Jesus says here, many Christians start to squirm uncomfortably. "Yes," they reply, "it's true, but ..." They come out with various responses. The bottom line is: it must be true (Jesus said it, after all!), but they don't like it, or they don't like to say it.
One common response is: "It's true, but it is not what the Christian life is all about." It seems that many Christians think that Jesus got it wrong on this point. According to Him, this is why He came. But what about prayer and Bible study, fellowship and evangelism? They are all vital - but they are not the point.
Jesus did not come so that we may have prayer meetings and Bible studies. He came that we may have life.
We need to study the Bible to understand what this life is like; we need to pray for the guidance and strength to live this life. Prayer and Bible study are tools, they are the means to an end. Their purpose is to enable us to live a full life in (and of) the Kingdom of God.
Another response is: "It's true, but it makes the Christian life sound self-centred, as if it is all about me and my pleasure." The Christian life is not self-centred: it is Jesus-centred. I will not have a happy life if I make my own happiness my goal. But my goal is to follow Jesus; and His goal is for me to have life in all abundance.
People think they can become happy by doing things they enjoy, by having as much fun as possible. A good number of our clients became homeless by following this route. It doesn't work.
The Bible makes it quite clear: the only way to live life to the full is by following Jesus - which means serving other people through sacrificial love. If you want to really enjoy life, then love other people the way Jesus did. We are wrong if we think that the way of the cross is an alternative to living life to the full: we learn how to live fully and joyfully by following Him.
According to Jesus, there is joy in living and loving and serving - when we do it His way. The Christian life is not all fun - nothing is - but following Him takes us to the best possible life, both for us and for those we love.