Friday, August 13, 2010

The Abundant Life on Display

My last couple of blogs have dealt with the subject of serving others and how this principle is the key to the abundant that Jesus promised would be ours if our lives were lost in Him. But what does such a life look like?

In his book, The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn details the life of William Borden, an American missionary who lived in the late 1800’s. Borden was a Yale graduate and heir to great wealth but he rejected a life of ease in order to bring the gospel to Muslims. Alcorn goes to say that Borden refused to even buy himself a car as he gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions. After only four months of ministry in Egypt, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at the tender age of 25. Alcorn recounts his visit to Borden’s grave site, “I dusted off the epitaph…after describing his love and sacrifices for the kingdom of God and for Muslim people , the inscription ended with a phrase I have never forgotten: ‘Apart from faith in Christ, there is explanation for such a life.’”

Alcorn then describes his subsequent visit to King Tut’s tomb, the boy king who died at age 17. Tut was buried with gold chariots and thousands of gold artifacts as the Egyptians believed erroneously that one could take his possessions with him to the afterlife. Alcorn remembers, “I was struck by the contrast of these two graves. Borden’s was obscure, dusty, and hidden off the back alley of a street littered with garbage. Tut’s tomb glittered with unimaginable wealth. Yet, where are these two young men now? One, who lived in opulence and called himself king, is in the misery of a Christless eternity. The other, who lived a modest life on earth in service of the one true King, is enjoying his everlasting reward in the presence of his Lord.”

William Borden is one who possessed the abundant life. I do not mean to suggest that one needs to give away or sell all his/her possessions to attain the abundant life but a life that is truly lost in Christ only views his station in life as a means by which to serve others by giving them the one thing they truly need – Jesus Christ. I really believe that when Christians stand before Jesus, all of us will wish we had given everything while we were here on earth as everything we possess is given from above for the purpose of the kingdom. It is here in this realm of servitude that we find true fulfillment and purpose.

This principle of service is underscored throughout the Bible. Jesus Himself tells us what our life will look like when we abide in Him, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

As I have stated previously, the American culture is the very antithesis of self-sacrifice. The land of opportunity has morphed over the past few decades into the land of me, myself, and I. We champion those who scratch and claw their way to the top no matter who they trample over to get there.

As long as the Dow Jones remains our barometer for judging success, we will never see the life Jesus is offering to those who love and serve Him. And really, when you boil it all down, we are all searching for the same thing, but outside of Christ our efforts are futile and leave us empty. William Borden understood this which is why when he was presented with the chance to have a life of luxury in this life, he traded it in for a life with the Lord in the next.

Where are you storing your treasures?

"What is it to me to bear the title well-born when I am born again to Christ? What is it to me to have the title Lord, when I desire to be the servant of Christ? What is it to be called Your Grace when I have need of God's grace? All these vanities I will do away with and all else I will lay at the feet of my dear Lord Jesus." - Baron von Weltz (son of Austrian nobility who renounced his title, his estates and his revenues in order to serve as a missionary to British Guyana)

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." - Jesus Christ (John 10:9-10)

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