By Joe Chesser
Abundant living. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Abundant living is something we all crave to one degree or to another. The problem is that we don’t all agree on just what abundant living means.
For some the “high life” refers to an exciting and luxurious way of living that involves a great deal of extravagance, partying, and thrills. One article on the internet suggested 8 easy ways to step into the high life, including booking a private jet, driving in style, creating your own perfume, designer clothes and sailing the seas. For others, life’s highpoint would be to star in a major film or be a supermodel or a rock singer. Some have simpler ideas, such as having good health and a loving family and a decent income. Others are content just to always be drunk (Miller High Life) or high on drugs. Our ideas of abundant living are not the same.
So, when Jesus promised in John 10.10 to give Christians an “abundant life” (ESV) or “life to the full” (NIV) or a “rich and satisfying life” (NLT), what does that mean to you? Does he have in mind worldly health, wealth and pleasure? Or perhaps might there be something far better than those. Absolutely there is!
While Jesus is definitely interested in our physical life on earth, that’s not what John 10.10 has in mind. Instead of pulling that verse out of its context and thinking of it from whatever framework you choose, think of it in the setting in which Jesus spoke it. The context of John 10 describes Jesus as the Good Shepherd taking care of the sheep who belong to him. That involves personally leading and protecting them. Jesus gives his sheep the best possible life a sheep can have, i.e., abundant life, even if the cost is laying down his own life for the sheep (John 10.17).
So, the context is not describing luxurious homes, massive salaries or exorbitant lifestyles. No, that’s not what abundant living means in John 10. The “life” Jesus speaks of here is spiritual life, not worldly life. Having a “rich and satisfying life” is only through Jesus, and no other way (see John 1.4; 14.6). As a sampling what abundant living is, Jesus calls us to experience love and peace beyond understanding (Ephesians 3.18; Philippians 4.6-7); to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5.18) allowing the Spirit to bear within us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5.22-23). Jesus calls us to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness to light (Colossians 1.13-14), from loving the world to loving God (1 John 2.15), … and so much more.
Abundant living that Jesus provides is the best possible way to live while on earth … and after death there is eternity with God. Now, that’s life to the full!!!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org