“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b (NKJV)John 10:10b (NKJV)
What is the abundant life? What can I realistically expect from God in Christ on a day-to-day basis? How can He impact my life? Not when I die and go to heaven, but how can He impact my life Monday through Sunday, beginning in the morning until I go to bed? In other words, what are the benefits of the Christian life? I have heard this passage preached all my life, and it always frustrates me as it is invariably misinterpreted and taken out of context. They say that if you become a Christian, God will give you everything your heart desires. You’ll have money, prestige, and wealth overflowing. You’ll never have any problem, and you’ll never have any need in your life. If you study the passage carefully, you’ll be surprised that this has absolutely nothing to do with what we normally think abundant life is. The abundant life that Jesus talks about is linked to all His “I Am statements” scattered all around the book of John. ‘’I Am the Bread of Life, I Am the Door, I Am the Good Shepherd, I Am the Light of the world, I am the Resurrection and the life” etcetera are all linked to this one message of John – the Abundant Life is Jesus Himself. What is the abundant life? The Abundant life is not material possessions, it’s not your Mercedes in your garage, it’s not your fat bank accounts. The abundant life is not what we possess; the abundant life is who you know; it’s Jesus. There is nothing that the world can offer that comes anywhere near the overflowing, super abundant life in Jesus. But what can we realistically expect from this abundant life that Jesus gives? Number one is peace: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Peace that passes all understanding, peace that comes from knowing that you have been forgiven by God. Internal peace: peace that only the Prince of peace can provide. Another benefit we can expect from this abundant life is trouble; yes, you heard it, trouble. If you can expect internal peace, you can expect external problems because Jesus Himself promised, “in this world you will have trouble.” Do not wonder because if the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Frankly, expecting major social, vocational, lifestyle problems aren’t exciting to me. Is it exciting to you? I sure like to talk about super abundant overflowing stuff. But the fact of the matter is, we’re going to have problems because we are Christians. We’re going to face some things that we would not face if we were not Christians. I don’t much like to get kicked in the face, do you? I don’t much like to be put down and personally be rejected, do you? But I submit to you if we bear the name of Christ, we are going to cause ripples wherever we are that’s going to reap persecution in the world. The problem with the church today is, we don’t look enough like Jesus to cause a ripple anywhere. If we are truly His, there ought to be a continuing ripple from our life and witness and we will suffer persecution from this world. But Jesus said, “in this world you will certainly have tribulation but take courage, I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). We have an Overcomer on our side. And that means He wasn’t beaten up; that means He wasn’t crucified; it doesn’t mean one of His closest friends didn’t betray Him. It doesn’t mean He had days when He didn’t chide His followers for lack of faith. It simply means He’s an overcomer. Why do we think that abundance is going to be any different from the life of Jesus and His apostles? Why do we think because we are Christians we are going to be insulated from life’s problems? CHRISTIANITY IS LIVING THE LIFE OF CHRIST wherever we physically may be. What can we expect from being a Christian? We can expect peace, and we can expect problems. Those 2 are mutually exclusive and dialectically Biblical. Those are both true. So, what is the abundant life? Let me tell you several things: Primarily, it is salvation in the Person and work of Jesus. Two, It’s a new relationship with God. Three, it’s a new perspective on life; we no longer look at life through the eyes of the world, but through the eyes of faith. And when you finally look at life through the eyes of faith, what a different picture it would be. Abundant life is not health, wealth, (prosperity, good cheer, and lack of problems. Christ doesn’t promise us an extended physical life, nor an increase in material possessions (read 2 Cor. 11:23-27). CHRISTLIKENESS IS WHAT THE ABUNDANT LIFE IS! It’s a new relationship with God, and a new perspective on life. Abundant life is what you are in Christ; not what you possess. Abundant life is a responsibility of service, not a place of privilege.