Living The Abundant Life
What did Jesus mean by abundant life?
“The thief only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” 1
He certainly was not referring to the gaining of wealth, Especially not by illicit means. If he was then the apostles certainly didn’t enter into that wealth. Most of them died without a penny to their name.
Using the apostles as our reference then neither was Jesus talking about a life without pain or challenge. They were regularly in danger and life-threatening situations.
I wonder however if that is part of the key?
The Psalmist says “I sink in the deep mire, where there is nowhere to stand: I come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” 2
As a swimming instructor, this concept of drowning is very familiar to me. I deal with people who are terrified of drowning on a scale that only someone else who is, likewise, terrified can understand. Yet there is only one way that I know of to overcome that fear and that is to risk drowning by learning to swim – preferably in the hands of a competent teacher.
The Psalmist continues, “I am suffering and in pain. Let your saving power protect me, O God. I want to praise the name of God with a song. I want to praise its greatness with a song of thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than sacrificing an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Oppressed people will see this and rejoice. May the hearts of those who look to God for help be refreshed.”
Did you see that? Only the Oppressed get it. Only those who have been through it really understand. If you haven’t been where Jesus has called you then you can’t enter into the abundant life.
Rejoicing or Not Rejoicing
I’ve never been one for rejoicing.
I am constantly being challenged by this.
In my research for my Blog on the GRN website, I came across several daily devotions by the founder of Global Recordings Joy Ridderhof 4,5,6 explaining the necessity of rejoicing for every Christian. I confess that despite her compelling arguments, rejoicing is still not easy for me. Not all of us are Tiggers (from Winny The Pooh stories). Some of us are Eaw’s. However, I think is something for a Christian to aspire to.
I said “rejoicing is not easy for me” once in a church sermon. Afterwards, I was confronted by some young people who were concerned about my rejoicing struggle. They felt I must not have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I tried to explain to them that not all of us are Tiggers but that doesn’t mean that if you are not a Tigger the the Holy Spirit is not in you. Did I convince them? I do know that I still relate better to the Psalmist than their particular form of Pentecostal viewpoint.
Moments of Joy
Still like the Psalmist, I Do have my moments of joy. I rejoice the most when I have succeeded in the face of adversity. Just like one of my young students who was previously afraid to put his face in the water, but managed to do so for the first time. The look on his face was one of sheer elation. However, he would not have been able to do it without the risk.
“Fear is your enemy when it stops you from doing something that you should do. Fear is your friend when it stops you from doing something you shouldn’t do.” But fear is your best friend when you are in danger and you do something to stop it from controlling your mind. Not only can it stop you from doing some pretty stupid things but can actually assist you. If you know how to use it. Because it may help you think and move faster, be a little stronger and feel less pain.
If risk and rejoicing are keys to an abundant life then what sort of risk?
The answer is in our text itself:
I Am Come
Jesus said, “I am come.”
Three very simple words that sent the Pharisees into a frenzy.
You see these very words were a clear declaration of the Divinity of Jesus, as the words translated “I Am” are the words The Lord God used to name himself when he spoke to Moses. “I Am who I Am” or “Yahweh” the name of God.
I’m convinced that we all read the text incorrectly.
Just like there are two different ways to say other text, like “What’s that on the road ahead” can be heard as “What is that on the road ….. A head?” There are two different ways to say this text.
I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am, come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.
Note the difference in the placement of the commas
It’s a call.
“It’s your master calling do you recognize me?
Come, I have a task for you and I want you to risk all to achieve it. If you do you will experience true abundance, not the pathetic imitation that the world has to offer. But the real thing.”
What is it God is calling you to do?
Are you prepared to enter into the abundant life?
Are you prepared to take the risk?
Do you want the real joy of achievement against all odds …. even death?
I believe there are people who have been told by God what it is they are supposed to do. It’s in your heart. You think about it regularly. But you won’t do it because of your fear. You are paralyzed, or worse still, you are galvanized into inaction. You are running around doing a myriad of things because you know if you stop the still small voice of Jesus will gently say “I Am … Come.”
It’s time to stop and trust God.
You won’t drown if you are doing his will.
He is the ultimate swimming instructor.
That way not only will you experience Life more abundantly, but you will do what the verse says and pass it on to others.