Can there be such a thing as abundant life? If so, what should I do to obtain it?
Everyone reading this article can look back on our lives and witness a story that has unfolded. The story of our lives can contain many highs and lows, many trials, and difficulties. We have all experienced days where happiness and joy prevail and days that include sadness and loss. These experiences in life can define us. Our choices with how we deal with these experiences can ignite a search deep down inside us to find something that can satisfy us or lead us to a satisfying life.
In my last podcast episode message, titled “What are you searching for,” I spoke about such a journey to find the abundant life? Like many of you, I have searched for ways to find a satisfying life. I first saw my satisfaction in my work, but work was not satisfying after a while. I continued my search and found pleasure in a hobby, lost contentment, and began searching again.
My search for a satisfying life ended when I chose to stop pursuing my passions. Pursuing my passions led me to a dissatisfying life, and I knew that there was something more, and I wanted to find it. So, I began to pray a lot for God’s answer to my discontentment. While attending church one Sunday morning, the pastor talked about why our prayers are not answered in the affirmative. God answered my prayer during this message, and my search was over. The pastor brought up a passage in James that read, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3 English Standard Version). That verse sheds light on my problem, and I lived out this very verse in my prayers to God. As the verse says, I asked for an answer to prayer to spend it on what I wanted to do and not what God intended me to do.
During that moment, I chose to submit to the Holy Spirit and put God first in my life, and allow him to take control. Since the age of twelve, I have been a Christian and have known who Jesus Christ is, but he was always in the passenger’s seat throughout most of my life. I never allowed him to drive the vehicle because I always thought I knew the best route. There were even times in my life when I even placed Jesus in the backseat of the car. I could still hear his voice trying to direct me but would listen to another voice instead. But when I continued to wreck my vehicle, and its components wore out, I again got into a place where I would begin the search for a new one.
As Christians, we have all heard or read the passage on Jesus being the Good Shepherd in John chapter 10. In this passage, Jesus says in verse 10 that the “Thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” One of the many reasons why Jesus came is so that those who believe in him can experience abundant life here on earth. Then why do Christians continue to seek out this satisfying life when they can have it in their relationship with Jesus Christ? Some clues in this passage can help us discover why we don’t always experience Christ’s abundant life.
The first clue is in John 10:9, where Jesus says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we enter a personal relationship with him and receive salvation. But turn your attention to the door and the phrase “will go in and out.” We enter through the door, but Jesus allows us to go in and out voluntarily through the door and find pasture. Jesus tells us that we can live an abundant life when we enter a relationship with him and stay close to him. We have a choice to stay there next to him and allow him to guide us through life, or we can leave through the door and seek to find pasture on our own. As Christians, we have all experienced what life is like when we enter the gate and allow God to direct our lives. And what life is like when we leave through the gate to experience life independently. The abundant life is found when we allow Jesus to guide us and is positioned in the driver’s seat.
The second clue to experiencing abundant life in Jesus Christ is to stay within his perimeter. We find this clue in the Greek word translated “abundantly.” The word abundantly comes from the Greek word “perrissos (Strong, J. 2010).” The root word for perrissos is the word peri, in which we get our English word “perimeter,” which means that when we enter through the gate, we enter a perimeter that Jesus sets up. Staying within the boundary is why we experience this abundant life that can only be found in Christ Jesus. The same concept is found in Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (ESV). When we stay within the perimeter of the Lord, he will encamp around us, and this security is what allows us to live an abundant life.
Now, you are probably asking what this perimeter consists of and why I should stay within the boundary?
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples in John 15, he told them to first abide in his love by remaining in him. Staying in the love of Jesus is part of the perimeter where the love of Jesus surrounds us.
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:9-12).
We remain in his love by obeying his commandments, and when we follow, we will experience the joys of life and live a satisfying life. But when we disobey the commandments of the Lord, we still have a love of the Father, but because we have left the boundary, we can be subject to wolves who can “snatch us and scatter us” (John 10:12).
The second part of the perimeter is to follow Jesus’s commandments. The Apostle John said this about keeping God’s commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Psalmist said in Psalm 19 that “the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening to the eyes” (Vs. 8) and that “in keeping them there is great reward” (Vs. 11).
The third part of the perimeter is to love one another, just as Christ loved you. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” which is a sacrificial love where you think of others more than of yourself. Then finally, we need to recognize and remember that it is because of Jesus’s love for us and his sacrifice on the cross that allows us to live an abundant life with him.
Jesus offers us an abundant life if we remain in his love, follow his commandments, and love one another. With all that Jesus has done for us, that is not too much to ask in return. You can experience the satisfying life that only Christ can provide. If you have left the boundary, come back through the door, Jesus leaves it open for you. If you are staying in the boundary that Christ provides, remember the words of the Apostle John. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). As Christians, we overcome the world through our faith in Christ alone. As difficulties and tribulations make their way into the boundary, we can still have an abundant life in Jesus because he has overcome the world and surrounds us.
You cannot have one foot outside of the gate in the world and another foot inside of the entrance of Christ’s love. To experience abundant life, choose to abide in his love, obey his commandments, and love one another within the boundary of Christ. In the book of Deuteronomy, God gave the people of Israel a choice, to choose life in him or not. God said, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
God wants you to experience abundant life; all you need is to choose which life you want to live.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
Strong, J. (2010, February 28). Strong’s Concordance. 4053. perissos. In Bible Hub. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/greek/4053.htm