Life with a Capital L

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Breakpoint Commentary by John Stonestreet on February 3rd.

Are you so heavenly minded you’re no earthly use?  A new book describes how we often misunderstand eternal life.

Pastor Matt Heard once saw a painting of five prisoners pressing against a small barred window to watch pigeons feeding outside their prison railcar.  Their faces reveal wonder, delight and appreciation for the joy of those birds.  A sixth prisoner stands in the shadows, turned away from the joyous scene and staring out of a barred window on the other side.

The painting is entitled “There is Life Everywhere,” and Matt thought about how often he saw Christians excited about the idea of heaven, but struggling through an earthly existence they were just surviving rather than enjoying.  For many believers, life was like that of the sixth man in the railcar, something that imprisons us and from which only heaven can set us free.  But this doesn’t mesh with Jesus’ words, especially John 10 v10, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

This fullness of life, or what Matt calls in the title of his book “Life with a Capital L” is the “capacity Jesus gives me to fully embrace my humanity and experience the privilege of being human.”  Matt realized that Jesus didn’t come to save us from human life but to restore us to it as the life God always intended for us:  to be fully human and fully alive.  Too often Christians act as if the physical aspects of our lives are in opposition to our spiritual lives and are even an evil to escape.

He writes, “To be fully human, I must engage with life in both a physical and spiritual way, and not just as two parallel, unrelated compartments….  Religion tends to idolise the spiritual and secularism tends to idolise the physical.  But the boundary between sacred and secular is fabricated.  To be fully human is to take down that boundary and live our days in an integrated way, both physically and spiritually.”

In the Incarnation, Jesus perfectly married the human and divine aspects of humanity.  As redeemed children of God, Jesus calls us to enjoy this same integrated life.  So how do we experience this?

Matt believes we must pay attention to our desires.  “My longing is central to who I am as a human being.”  Now of course, most of us experience our longings in a fallen sense and misdirected.  Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we drink and drink and are never satisfied, because we don’t realize that Christ is offering living water that alone can fully quench our thirst.  That water leads us to be what God created us to be. 

Understanding, demands we take the idea of grace seriously.  To do that, we must contend with the reality and gravity of our sin.  But when we do, it illuminates what the redeemed life can look like.

To explore this further, listen to my interview with Matt on ‘BreakPoint This Week’ at BreakPoint.org  Consider this my personal invitation to embrace your God-given humanity and to come home to the vibrant life a bit earlier than you had planned.