Apr 042012
 
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Abundant Life

In John 10:7-10 Jesus makes a powerful statement about life:

  Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 

The phrase “to the full” has also been translated “more abundantly” and this leads to the important understanding that Jesus has come to give us abundant life. As we examine Jesus’ lifestyle it also becomes apparent that he expected his followers to be a  community – praying for them to be one just as he and the Father are one (John 17:20-23). In other words, the abundant life we have in Jesus includes our relationships with other believers.  If our lifestyles diminish our relationships then we won’t experience life as abundantly as we ought to.

Making Room For Life

Diagram 1: Bob

In his book titled “The Relational Way“, M. Scott Boren addresses the difficulties that many churches experience in developing the relational aspects of their ministries. In each of the book’s ten chapters, Boren addresses a key “structural myth” believed by many churches. In Chapter 3: Seeking God’s Relational Kingdom” Boren addresses the following:

Structural Myth #3:

“Meeting in small groups is the central source of biblical community.”

The Relational Truth:

“Relational kingdom life requires the church to address how people do life, not just how they do small groups.”

Meet Bob

On page 72 Boren illustrates this relational truth with a discussion drawn from “Making Room For Life” by Randy Frazee (senior minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio). He describes the life of Bob, a VP of marketing at a large food distribution company. Bob has two children by his current wife, two children with his ex-wife, a 6000 square foot home and two cars. His life is characterized by a number of relationship clusters represented by the circles in Diagram 1. Notice that each of the circles is connected only to Bob indicating that he has to do all the work of maintaining the relationships.

I shared this teaching in my 1/15/2012 message “Break Out Of The World’s Mold And Into God’s (Part 3)” (available from our Sermon Podcast Page). A short time later I reviewed this same subject at our  2/4/2012 Leadership Team retreat. We all agreed that in many ways we were “Bob”, and we came to the sobering realization that we had allowed ourselves to become “bobified”!

Diagram 2: Bob Lite

 

Bob Lite

To better understand this concept let’s take a look at a simplified version of the “Bob” diagram (Diagram 2: Bob Lite). Here we’ve placed Bob and his wife Barbara in the center circle together and reduced the number of peripheral circles. This makes it easier to show on a web page. What would the diagram look like if we were mapping your life? How many circles would there be? Why not take a moment to draw your own “Bob” diagram as an exercise? Talk about this with some of the people who are close to you and ask them to help you capture the layout of your relational clusters!

Bob Lite – Revised

What would happen if Bob and Barbara connected their exercise, friendships, volunteer work, and children’s activities to their church relationships? This would give Bob and Barbara increased opportunities to build relationships with a smaller number of people. This would make the following scenarios possible and perhaps even likely:

  • Bob and a group of brothers from his church head to the gym where they work out and build their relationships with one another.
  • Bob and several families from church head to a local park where the children enjoy healthy exercise and the parents spend time hanging out together.
  • While volunteering together at a food pantry, Bob spends time discipling a new believer from church.

Diagram 3: Bob Lite – Revised

Diagram 3: Bob Lite – Revised illustrates the connections that make these scenarios possible.

Resources

This was such an eye opening idea that I began looking on the internet for other resources on this topic. I soon discovered that Randy Frazee had a podcast available of a sermon series on the subject. I’ve included links to the messages below. Check them out!

“Making Room For Life” – Randy Frazee (Oak Hills Church) (video)

“Making Room For Life” – Randy Frazee (Oak Hills Church) (audio podcast)

Here are some other resources that may interest you: