Talk to any ” health and wealth” preacher or listen to the popular televangelists of the day and you’re likely to hear the idea that Jesus wants us to have it all. Where do they get that message? On closer inspection, it seems to be an Americanized version of John 10:10. In John 10:7-10 we read these words of Jesus:
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Have life to the full. Some translations call it the abundant life. But what is the abundant life Jesus is talking about and how do we get it?
God once created perfection here on earth. In the Garden of Eden we see the epitome of God’s love for us in how he created the world for mankind. Sadly, man found a way to mess it up through sin and we have lived in a world of darkness ever since. We don’t have to look any further than the mass shooting at a Kenyan university in early April. The sin of mankind took 147 lives in that horrible event and there are examples of evil like it almost daily around the world.
Since sin has entered the world, the results have been disastrous. Humans are blinded to the fact that we live in a state of separation from God. Or even worse, we’re at times comfortable with that state. But there is a way out and Jesus is that way.
We are the lost sheep and Jesus is the gate. In him we find life. Not just a normal life; an abundant life. But Jesus describes a very specific way to that life. He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus is a deliverer of rest, a respite from the weariness of sin. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Our key to the abundant life starts with Jesus.
Jesus is not the only one we receive when we enter through him. We also gain access to God the Father (John 14:23) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). We receive the very Spirit of God living inside of us. And through that Spirit, we gain access to every spiritual blessing that God has to offer (Ephesians 1:3). Faith, love, peace, joy, discernment, godliness, self-control. These blessings and many more become ours when we enter through the gate of Jesus.
While we may not experience the full measure of abundance that Jesus was speaking of till we reach heaven, there are some characteristics of an abundant life that we can see now in this life.
- We can be content regardless of circumstances (1 Timothy 6:6).
- We work alongside God to grow his kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20).
- We have a peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7).
- We are filled with joy (1 Peter 1:8-9).
- We are able to show real love (John 13:34-35).
- We grow spiritually (2 Peter 1:5-8).
- We have nothing to fear (Romans 8:1-2).
- We can have an effective prayer life (James 5:16).
Getting it All
God wants to give us all the good gifts and blessings that he has created (Matthew 7:11). All of those things add up to the abundant life spoken of in John 10:10. Our aim should be to acquire the full life that God has in mind and not necessarily the comfortable life of our dreams. The only way we can do that is to give ourselves over to God through Jesus Christ. Let him be your Lord and Savior and use you how he sees fit. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Jesus: Matthew 16:25).