Tonight was our offical kickoff of the new school year. Seem late for a kickoff? Well, it seems that way but UCLA just returned to school last Thursday, so tonight was the first time that we had all of our schools and universities in session. I love Wednesday night. I spend most of the day a little stressed out worrying about the night. Is everything in order? Did I get everything done that needed to be done? Is my sermon really ready? But once we begin and the worship band opens the night there is no other place I would rather be. Nothing is more exciting than working with college students. I love watching them mingle, welcome new people, share their lives with each other. I love standing in the balcony or off to the side and watch them worship.
College is definitely a very unique time of life and I am excited for the year that lays ahead of all of us. Tonight was more of a welcome back night so I didn’t give my typical, semi-lengthy message (35-40 mins). Tonight I spoke for about 15 minutes, only sharing one verse with them. John 10:10. “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That they may have life, and have it to the full. Or abundantly. What does it mean to live life in abundance? In excess? That is the question I posed to my students. I wanted to really challenge them this year with the choice they really have before them in the beginning of this school year. The choice of life, or abundant life. The choice of life at a mediocre level, or abundantly. The choice seems easy, but it doesn’t always translate that way.
As I talked with the students tonight I challenged them to hold this verse as the focal point of the year. That they would ask themselves what does it mean for them to live life abundantly? Are the choices they make in life, or will make this year, lead to life abundantly, or mediocrity?
As I was thinking about this passage a quote from C. S. Lewis arose to my mind, so I want to leave you with this powerful quote.
“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Are you too easily pleased? Are your desires too weak? I think these are good questions to ask ourselves when we think about what it means to live life abundantly.