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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Living outwards

Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). He came so that we can live life to the fullest. The Bible tells us how to live this out and it tells us something very different than what our culture tells us.

We only truly flourish when we know Christ and have received the gift of his salvation. That is when we are set right with God. It is the first step to living a full and abundant life. We flourish because of something that is given as a gift to us. It is not something we create on our own. Today’s culture glorifies humans and human accomplishment as if on our own we can make things work right.

The cultural view of flourishing is self-focused, inwardly fixated, and all about me and mine. Biblical flourishing is missional, priestly, and outward focused, motivated on spreading God’s glory throughout the earth. We flourish when we help others flourish as it says in Jeremiah 29:7, “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (NIV).

The science is clear. Helping others helps us live longer. Researchers have proven that volunteering is healthy! Volunteers show an improved ability to manage stress. Their loneliness is alleviated. Their depression is reduced and they experience a greater sense of satisfaction. Living outwards means we will flourish!

A team of sociologists tracked two thousand people over a five-year period and found that Americans who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered as little as 6 hours per month. We live life more fully and we flourish when we give away ourselves and then we become more physically and socially active and our lives open up to so much more!

This “abundant life” Jesus invites us to live is about a grace way bigger than what we can imagine. It’s way bigger than our sins and failings. It’s about sanctified, holy living. It’s about the deep-down assurance that you belong to the risen Savior. It’s about a desire to tell people about this new and full life we have. It’s our response to Jesus who gave it all and thought we are worth it. Truly, I know that the life of a follower of Christ is abundant in so many ways and it is available to everyone—even you.

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