— John 10:10b
Many of you might not be aware of it, but The Anniston Star posts most of its stories on the newspaper’s website at www.annistonstar.com, and we allow visitors to post comments about those stories.
This column is no exception.
I find the comments on the column to be sometimes offensive, very often uninformed, sometimes entertaining, sometimes encouraging and occasionally insightful.
I usually read them all. Most of the time, I choose to ignore them. Occasionally, though, I’ll respond … mostly out of courtesy, but also because I like demonstrating how the Bible can respectfully quiet its critics.
Sometimes, it’ll be a personal challenge. Here’s a recent one:
“I think Mr. Cook can write a better column than he does. We have a pretty good idea of his feelings towards Jesus. Maybe more daily examples of better living through Jesus.”
Hmm. Better living through Jesus? Be careful.
Jesus addressed the good ol’ “better living” gospel centuries ago in Luke chapter 16 when he recounted the events that took place between the Rich Man and Lazarus.
The Rich Man had what we today might call a “better living” — a big house, fancy clothes, the best food and all the world’s creature comforts every day.
Lazarus, however, was not quite as well off. He was sick every day, had no home, no one to care for him, and he begged for crumbs daily from the Rich Man’s table.
The Rich Man’s “better living” was good, but it was temporary. When he died, he went to hell, a place of eternal suffering, and he’s still there today.
The Bible gives no indication that Lazarus ever tasted of the “better living” in this world. But as a Christian, when he died, he was carried by angels into paradise and is yet today enjoying the shelter and comfort and sustenance of his eternal home with Christ.
The story is important because it shows that, not only do Christians suffer, but that Jesus’ promise of “life and life more abundantly” isn’t as much about this existence as it is the next.
Better living through Jesus Christ means a change in how I treat people, genuinely investing in people, sacrificially loving my wife and children, and using things to love people instead of using people to get things.
I was blessed enough last weekend to be among the members of a handful of local churches operating as Ignite Calhoun County who came together to do service projects at Constantine Elementary in Anniston and at widows’ homes in Jacksonville.
We were motivated by nothing more than our love for Christ and people. We had a wonderful time as we worked to bring glory to the name above all names. Now that’s better living through Jesus.
Christ didn’t die on the cross for me to have a big house or fancy clothes or expensive cars.
All those things are temporary.
He has provided for me eternal life with him, an eternal home, a new body and a new name.
Jesus offers to us that abundant life and asks: Will you live for the moment, or will you live for eternity?
Anthony Cook is managing editor at The Star and pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-235-3558.