The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (RSV)
In her book, The Wired Soul, Tricia McCary Rhodes describes what it feels like living in the hyperconnected age of the 21st century:
While I am not personally prone to panic attacks, but these days there are moments when I find myself out of sorts, almost as if I can’t quite catch my breath. I don’t think I’m alone in this. People of all ages seem terminally distracted, perpetually hurried, and often harried. It is rare for an answer to the question “how are you?” not to include the word busy and elicit some degree of angst. Collectively it feels as if we are losing something important in the name of progress, as if life itself is slipping through our fingers.
I know I’m not the only one who identifies with Dr. Rhodes. I listen to friends, associates, and even strangers share their frustrations as they attempt to be “all-and-everything-to-everybody-while-no-good-for-themselves”. Is it time for you to reclaim your life?
Moses experienced this dilemma as Mediator for the Israelites until he received wise counsel from Jethro (Ex. 18:14-18). Moses reclaimed his life! Believers are sometimes like Moses. Even when we work in ministry or in the church, our hectic schedules and conflicted priorities keep us from serving God well. Many times we’re too tired and over committed to assist when needed. We’re even unavailable to keep the “divine appointments” God sends our way. The thief comes only to steal.
In our text today, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, contrasts his nurturing care for His believers with that of a thief. In this analogy, the thief refers to the leaders of Israel who didn’t care for the spiritual good of the people but only for themselves. Who is the thief for believers today? It’s anything or anyone who robs believers of the promises and blessings of God (Ep. 1:3). For those attempting to reclaim their life, the thief is noise, hurry, and crowds. It’s our bad habits, our toxic relationships and yes, our over-committed calendars. The thief is social media—that constant intruder who interferes with our ability to live in the present and in the presence of God. Are you a slave to the notification bell that pings every time you receive a new text? Do you jump when Periscope whistles to you when a new broadcast is about to begin? The thief comes only to kill and destroy.
But Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” So what does “abundant life” look like? Life (zoe) is defined as “real and genuine”. It is a life vigorously devoted to and in personal relationship with God (John 15:4-5) and with others. Life offers spiritual freedom and eternity with God to those who put their trust in Christ (John 3:16; Rom. 6:14). Life lived abundantly (perissos) is possible through the leading (filling) of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Abundant living is everything we need to reclaim our lives—balance, energy, peace, simplicity, and happiness.