Recorded in the book of John is an exciting declaration made by Jesus for every person. Jesus said “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). But what does Jesus mean when he says "life and have it to the full"? This is a question that staff have been wrestling with over the last few weeks as we continue to contemplate how we might build an environment that enables students to live well now and into the future.
One picture of "life to the full" that we have considered and that we believe to have been a part of Jesus thinking when He made this declaration is the picture of the "tree planted by streams of water" given to us in the book of Psalms. Psalm 1 says;
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
The Psalm begins with the phrase "Blessed is the man". The Hebrew word for blessed is often also translated happy or fulfilled or satisfied. I know when I eat a meal and feel satisfied I often say "I feel full" and so perhaps we could equate the "blessed life" to the "full life" that Jesus was referring to.
The next couple of verses give the specifics of what a blessed or full life looks like. In fact this Psalm provides us with some beautiful imagery of the full life.
Firstly, we see in this image a tree that is located in a environment where it is being formed. The tree is located by a stream where it can obtain all the right nutrients needed for growth. In the Psalm, we read that the blessed man “meditates on [God’s] law day and night”. The nutrients for the "full life" come from living by faith in God's word.
Secondly, we see in this image that the blessed/full life is a flourishing life. It is said of this tree that its "leaf does not wither”. The full life is not static, rather it is continually growing and developing. Despite the storms that are part of the natural environment of the tree, it continues to produce fruit. This fruit is a sign of the development of resilience and other virtues which assist a person to navigate challenges and continue to flourish.
Thirdly, the image of the "full life" captures a person who favours wisdom. The first couple of phrases of this Psalm tells us that the person who has a blessed/full life makes an active choice to trust God’s plans. Rather than accept the advice of mockers and “stand in the way of sinners” this person takes delight in the wisdom found in God’s word.
Finally, the blessed/full life fruitful, "yielding its fruit in season”. Fruit is a symbol of something that is developed. It is evidence of health and nourishment and then useful in the service of others.
Faith, virtue, wisdom and service; it is these elements that are critical to building an environment that enables every person to live well now and into the future. You will have noticed that these four values sit at the centre of our Building Purposeful Lives (BPL) framework which means that all aspects of BPL present opportunities for us to foster the right conditions for students to accept Jesus' offer of "life to the full".