Abundant Life | Christianese Defined

Abundant Life | Christianese Defined

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ABUNDANTLIFE“The abundant life” is a hotly contested phrase among Christians, yet it is extremely common to hear it used in Christian circles. Many churches even put “Abundant Life” in their names! What does having an abundant life mean? How does it play out in the life of a Christian? Should we keep promising it to those who are considering becoming Christians or will it end up leading to broken promises and disillusionment?Christians get the phrase from John 10:10 where Jesus says “...I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus came that we may “have life abundantly”. So how do we define “life”? What is it that we are to have abundantly? Therein is where the splintering of views occurs. There are myriads of opinions on what having life and having it abundantly looks like.This is yet another instance where looking to what Jesus actually says in Scripture proves to be extremely helpful. Just a few chapters after the abundant life verse, right at the beginning of one of the most beautiful prayers recorded in Scripture, Jesus defines what eternal (which sounds pretty abundant to me) life is. Here are the bookends from The High Priestly Prayer found in John 17:“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent...25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”(I encourage you to read the whole prayer here: John 17)Hence we can define the abundant life as follows:

  • knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent
  • being known by God
  • glorifying God by becoming more like Christ
  • making God known in the world
  • experiencing God’s love and Jesus in us

(I should also say that all this is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit who enables and empowers us to live the abundant life as defined. See Luke 24:48-49, Galatians 5, and the entire book of Acts.)Here’s the thing. As you read through the Bible you do notice God’s people experiencing abundant blessings and yet, at the same time, you see them enduring abundant suffering as well. In fact our greatest blessing, salvation in Jesus Christ, was won through the greatest suffering eternity has ever known, Jesus’ atonement for our sin through death on the cross and separation from God the Father. How do we make sense of all this?Consider our definition of the abundant life. How are those things brought about in our life? It can take many forms. God can sovereignly use blessings in my life to cause me to know more about His character, glorify Him as Lord and experience His love and care. God can also sovereignly use suffering in my life to weed out destructive idols that are keeping me from becoming more like Christ, help me lean on the promises and truth of His Word, and experience His love and care. (To be clear, God doesn’t cause suffering in our lives, but He wills to permit it for our ultimate good, which is outlined in our abundant life definition.) I may experience verbal, emotional or physical persecution while simultaneously experiencing the blessing and privilege of stepping out in faith as God’s ambassador to make Christ known in the world! (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)Our circumstances don’t dictate whether or not we’re experiencing the abundant life. Our focus does. Jesus Christ is our ultimate hope in this unstable world. May we focus on Him no matter what may come!I encourage you to watch this conversation between Donald Miller, Tremper Longman and Dan Allender as they wrestle with what experiencing the abundant life as a Christian actually means, then please leave your comments below.https://vimeo.com/6821420 

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