I had always heard in church that nothing outside of Jesus can bring lasting satisfaction (life) – so anything from money, material possessions, achievements, experiences, and success, to sex, drugs, alcohol, food – the list goes on.
At some point during my walk with God, I began to truly believe that – but to practically live that out was hard. To find life in Jesus, after all, wasn’t something tangible I could put my hands on. Although I began to seek out Jesus for life, I also relied on more than just Him to make me feel “alive.”
John the disciple, the most likely author of this fourth gospel, describes himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.”
One of the main themes of John’s Gospel is life. He presents an entirely different view from the rest of the world for obtaining life, one that is simple, almost too simple to trust:
All things came into being through [Christ], and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Mankind’s very existence comes from Jesus, who is Life itself, which means that man cannot possibly find Life outside of Christ.
But ever since Adam and Eve decided to walk away from their very source, mankind has either walked with God (in Life), or in sin (which masquerades as life, but is really just death):
…just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…
But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.
And all of this makes sense, but I used to wonder to myself, how do I overcome? How do I stop making choices and thinking negative thoughts that are obviously not from God? I keep making mistakes and doing the wrong thing that leads me away from Life.
Who can’t identify with the apostle Paul’s struggle?
For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
The answer comes in the Gospel of John, where another theme is belief – belief that Jesus Himself is Life (John 1:3,4), and that He will reveal Life to us (which is Himself) through faith alone – not willpower, not striving:
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
…but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ; and that believing you may have life in His name.
A speaker from my Foundations for Counseling Ministry School in Kona taught that man’s only work is belief. We simply must believe in the words of God, and obey whatever He personally speak to us in faith that we have heard Him (and God Himself gives us the grace [strength] to obey whatever He has called us to):
Do not let your heart be troubled ; believe in God, believe also in Me.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…
2 Corinthians 9:8
Jesus promises that we can find abundant life, a well-spring, one that gushes over and never runs dry. We never have to “fill our tanks” again on the same things we rely on outside of God over and over, because God makes His home within us – the Ultimate Comfort:
…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
It has been a journey of following God (without really knowing where I was going) that has led me to experience His remarkable faithfulness toward me. The life I was searching for certainly didn’t come right away, but I can testify that I have found it in God through faith and obedience (not willpower and strife). I’m not as dependent on circumstances or anything outside of Him to make me “feel alive” (although of course I’m still a work in progress). It comes from within. This verse describes it in a way I can’t with words:
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’