Living Abundantly

March 23rd, 2012

For months many teenage fans of Suzanne Collins’s popular young adult novel trilogy The Hunger Games have had March 23 circled on their calendars. That is the day when The Hunger Games movie debuts in theaters.

The film, directed by Gary Ross, follows the adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from the dystopian future city of Panem in District 12. District 12, like the other 11 districts, is mandated by the state to send two young representatives—one boy and one girl—to fight to the death against their fellow “tributes” in the Hunger Games. The tributes are chosen through a lottery system, but Katniss volunteers to represent District 12 in place of her younger sister Primrose, who had been chosen as the district’s representative.

As a tribute Katniss experiences every form of treachery, danger, and horror imaginable during her time in the arena (the enormous outdoor venue in which the games take place). Despite this, she finds that there is still kindness and compassion, even during a competition in which everyone is supposed to kill his or her opponents.

Tunnel of Survival

We are blessed to live during a time and in a place where something as awful as the Hunger Games couldn’t exist (though it is important to remember that children in some parts of the world are asked to put their lives on the line for oppressive governments or warlords). But despite all of our blessings, we—like Katniss in the Hunger Games arena—sometimes feel as though we are just doing whatever it takes to get by. We feel weighed down by homework assignments, extracurricular activities, jobs, family obligations, and church commitments. We get so wrapped up in the demands of our day-to-day lives that we lose sight of all the ways in which we’re blessed and what it truly means to be alive.

How often have you answered a friendly salutation by saying: “Oh, you know, same-old same-old,” or, “Just another day.” Sometimes it’s as though we’ve stopped living and are merely surviving.

Intentional Life

God didn’t create us so that we would just “get by.” In fact, our defi nition of “getting by” is much different from God’s. God wants much more for us than for us to do whatever it takes to pay our smart phone bill and fill a college application with extracurricular activities. Jesus came so that we could live an abundant life (see John 10:10). The abundance of which Jesus speaks doesn’t refer to money or gadgets or events on our calendar. It refers to an abundance of God’s Holy Spirit.

Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, tells us not to worry about day-to-day concerns such as food and clothing, but to “desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we focus on God’s kingdom, all of our other worries will take care of themselves.

Focusing on God’s kingdom means considering the needs of others before our own; it means being humble and patient; it means setting aside time alone with God; and it means allowing ourselves to celebrate and rejoice in God’s blessings. Yes, there will still be times when life is stressful and when we have to knuckle down and deal with day-to-day challenges. But these situations need to be exceptions, not habits. We were not created for anxiety and obsession. Instead God wants us to invest in relationships, to worship, and to relish the blessings in our lives.

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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