I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was 10 years old, and I’d gone to the grocery store with my mother. Not wanting to trail along through the store, I sat on a bench just inside the store’s entrance and waited for her to complete her shopping.
An old man walked in. He was reaching for something in his front pocket. As he pulled his hand free, a bunch of coins fell to the floor. With labored movements, he stooped down and started to pick the coins up one by one.
I went over and started helping him reclaim his change. I’d picked up two or three coins when his hand shot out and grabbed my wrist. He squeezed, shaking my hand until I dropped the coins. I looked at him in surprise. He glared at me and said, “Back off! It’s my money! You’re not going to steal from me, boy!”
I went back to the bench, wanting to cry, but afraid to. When my mother finished her shopping, I told her what had happened. “I was just trying to help him and he thought I was stealing from him!” I was hurt because he’d misunderstood my intentions.
I wonder if that’s how Jesus feels sometimes. Many people reject Him because they think He’s going to force a set of rules and regulations on them. They think He’s going to spoil all the fun in their lives.
While it’s true that Christians are called to a higher standard of living, and the Bible sets forth guidelines on how Christians are supposed to live, the purpose of those guidelines are to help us, not harm us. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jesus wants to give you an abundant life, not further burden your life. Based on many people’s reactions to Christianity, though, I wonder if Jesus ever thinks, “I want to give them an abundant life, but they think I want to steal their life from them!”
Everything this world says will give you an abundant life is, at best, temporary. It may fulfill you for a while, but it’ll leave you just as empty and unfulfilled as before. Jesus, however, offers you an abundant life which begins today, and will last eternally.
Parrish Myers is a local minister. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.