Futility or Fullness?
The Gospel sets before each of us a choice. It is a choice between futility and fullness. Life without Christ is a life of futility. Life in Christ is fullness of life. The situation facing us today is strikingly similar to the situation of the first disciples. We are told in John 6:66 that “many of the disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him.” The same thing is happening today. Many people are turning back from following Christ.
What are the consequences of their choice?
What is the alternative to their choice?
Peter answers these questions for us in John 6:68. Jesus has asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” (John 6:67). Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
To turn away from the Lord Jesus is to head off into a spiritual “no man’s land.” There is nowhere else to go. To turn back from following Jesus is to drift into a life of futility. there is, however, an alternative to the life of futility. It is Jesus Christ, in whom alone there is fullness of life.
The contrast between futility and fullness may be highlighted by stressing the difference between the words of Ecclesiastes 1:2 and the words of our Saviour in John 10:10. Ecclesiastes 1:2 describes very aptly the mood of our time: “Meaningless! Meaningless! … Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
Into this situation of futility comes the Lord Jesus, bringing, with Him, fullness of life: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
If we are to enjoy fullness of life in Christ, we must go forward in faith, refusing to turn back from following Christ. as we seek to follow the Lord Jesus, we will soon discover that there are many obstacles along the way. Jesus makes this very clear. When He speaks of fullness of life, He also warns us that there is a “thief (who) comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). There are “thieves” who would steal us away from following Jesus. these “thieves” seek to kill the life of Christ within us. They seek to destroy our fellowship with the Lord, leading us away from a life of fullness to a life of futility. In this spiritual conflict, we are called to be faithful. Faithfulness to Christ is not something that we can take for granted. There is always the life of futility, threatening to pull us away from the fullness of life, which is in Christ.
We must always remember the real contrast between life without Christ and life with Christ.
In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), we see the difference between futility and fullness. Away from the Father’s house, the prodigal son lived a life of futility. Once he had returned to the Father’s house, he was no longer the prodigal son. He had become the restored son. he had been restored to a fullness of life, which he could never have known while he was away from the Father’s house. No matter how long we may have been in the Father’s house (or in the Father’s love), we must never forget what life is like away from the Father’s house.
As we look at the two ways of life – the way of futility and the way of fullness – , we must not look back with a yearning to return to the old life. rather, we must look back and say, “That life is over, finished.” We must look back and say, “That way - the way of futility – is a dead-end street, a road that leads me nowhere. I have no wish to return to that life.” As we look back, we must learn to say, with thanksgiving to God, “I was lost but now I am found” (Luke 15:32).
What is the life of fullness into which the Lord Jesus brings us?
Peter, in John 6:68, describes it as eternal life – “You have the words of eternal life.”
Jesus, in John 7:37-39, stresses that this life is not to be written off as ‘pie in the sky when you die’, life in a far-away and distant heaven, life which has no relevance for our life here-and-now. It begins with the new life of the Spirit.
Once, I was speaking at a meeting which had two sessions. During the first session, I stressed that eternal life is not merely ‘pie in the sky when you die.’ During the interval, someone said to me that it’s also ‘steak on the plate while you wait.’ Jesus does not only give us a place in heaven. he also gives us fullness of life here-and-now,
This fullness of life, this new life in the Spirit, is described by Jesus in John 7:38 – “He who believes in Me … Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Through the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we can look at the many temptations to return to the life of futility and we can say, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). With the Spirit of the living God in our hearts, we can “see the sights that dazzle”, and we can turn from them to the solid joys which only Christ can give. we have the new life of the Spirit, the fullness of life in Christ. We can say, “Fading is the worldling’s pleasure”, for we know that the world can offer us nothing which even begins to compare with Jesus Christ. No longer is there “a God-shaped blank” in our lives. Jesus has filled our lives with His fullness – the fullness of a love which will never let us go, the fullness of a love which will never let us down, the fullness of a love which leads us onward to victory and upward to heavenly glory.