>The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

The world paints the opposite picture. For a lot of people the idea of following God seems just as restrictive as following a family budget. The lie is that we lose of freedom by following Christ. Yet the truth is that only in Christ can we be truly free (John 8:36).

The Enemy’s purposes are clear: theft, death and destruction. Affairs don’t lead to better relationships. Pornography doesn’t lead to intimacy. Overeating doesn’t lead to satisfaction. Alcohol abuse only leads to hangovers. And, shopping binges only lead to garage sales. You don’t end up headed north by traveling west.

The easy answer creates more problems. The quick fix leads to greater damage. The wide path leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Jesus came to give us a life that produces all of the fullness and richness that would completely satisfy us. Our frustration is that we can’t just flip a switch and have it. Fullness from God is carefully cultivated. Most of us are just too impatient with that. Our impatience causes us to turn to things that fulfill us temporarily. We believe in God’s promises, but then we pluck the apple off of the tree. Sure, it makes us feel guilty, but we’re in control over it. Or, so we think.

I am not writing this to judge you. I am writing this because I am one of you. I’m continually learning to resist the exaggerated pleasures of this life and look for the simple pleasures that God provides. I too am learning to lay aside the saccharin that kills and to reach for the sweetness that God provides.

Here’s the catch: we have to choose to neglect the quick fixes and the accessible diversions and choose to engage in things that truly satisfy. A lot of evenings I find myself vegging out in front of the television. I like to watch the Food Network. The food looks good. The people look like they’re having fun. They say it smells good, but it just smells like my house to me. They say it tastes good, but it’s not in my kitchen. I’ve looked.

I’m not going to forsake the Food Network entirely, but I have backed off. It makes me hungry, which ignites my overeating. So, last night, I just watched a couple of shows. I also painted my mailbox post. (Our HOA is a little intense about such things.) I also had a conversation with my wife, then I got my things ready to go to the gym after work the next day, so I wouldn’t be rushed in the morning. It felt more productive. It felt richer. It felt a little more satisfying even with less snacking.

Jesus didn’t come so you would lead a bland life. If you feel that a vanilla existence is more spiritual, then you have misinterpreted Scripture. Jesus died so that we can truly live the fulfilling life that God intended. Our job is to avoid the poor substitutes and embrace life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:19).

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