How to Have an Abundant Life
Some years ago, I led a discussion about Jesus saying “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10.” My icebreaker question was “What do you think the abundant life means?”
One participant actually rattled off a list like this: “Happiness. Good job. Nice salary. Beautiful wife…” In hindsight, I think he was being facetious. But it struck me that perhaps much of our confusion and distress is because we jump into our own definitions of “abundant life.”
The more I study the passage, the more I am convinced that “abundant life” is that which flows from a Shepherd-sheep relationship with Jesus Christ. In context, the promise of John 10:10 lies smack in the middle of a discourse about Him being the Good Shepherd.
Security. Shepherding is a dangerous job. When a wolf appears to ravage the flock, the shepherd puts himself in its path to protect the sheep. Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep and applies this to Himself, “… and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Most people would interpret this as His death on the Cross. But security also applies to everyday, earthly living. The shepherd goes ahead of the sheep. I once read a devotional that goes like this: We need not be afraid of difficulties and temptations, because first they have to pass through the Shepherd before they can get to us. What a wonderful thought!
Sustenance. Security means nothing when one is starving. Jesus said that the shepherd calls his sheep and leads them out.
To where? The sheep “come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:11). The shepherd knows the patches of green where the sheep might graze. He personally leads them to these pastures. While the sheep blissfully munch the grass, the shepherd keeps an alert eye against predators. The element of security is interwoven with sustenance.
Jesus does not shove us with meager rations. He spreads out a sumptuous buffet before us! The believer-sheep need not starve. True, he can hunger for God and actually go through stretches when God seemed to be distant or absent. But we are assured that in due time, He satisfies us with good things.
Significance. Ever been to a party where nobody knows your name and couldn’t care less? We would feel unimportant, don’t we? But the Good Shepherd calls each sheep by name.
We would think sheep are sheep; they all look alike. But the experienced shepherd would say something like, “Do you see Long Ears over there? He doesn’t give as much trouble as Hide-and-Seek right here. This walking pile of wool keeps straying from the flock. I lost count of the times I had to look for this darn critter. Oh, have you met Frisky? He’s the nervous type who will never eat unless he’s sure there’s no wolf prowling around…”
The same God who knows each star also summons us by name. We are important to Him. By extension, He knows us far more intimately than we know ourselves. He knows our hurts, dreams, regrets, worries, hopes and joys. He hears our every sigh. He watches over our every step. The good news to the lonely and overlooked is that we have value to the One whose opinion matters the most.
What now? People squander millions of pesos, destroy themselves in addictions and wage wars for far less. But in Christ, we have an unfailing Champion, a generous Chef, and a loving Companion.
Let us commit to have Christ as our Shepherd and we His sheep. True, we start by believing in Him. But let us also hear His voice and follow Him. How? By reading our Bibles, praying, joining the community that is His flock, going where He wants us to go, doing what He wants us to do.
Then we would taste – perhaps for the very first time – the utter delights of the abundant life.
Photo credit from Science Node
We’d love for you to leave a comment and share this post to encourage others. Thank you.