“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”John 10:10
This verse puzzles a lot of well-meaning Christians. They wonder, “My life feels anything but abundant. If I am connected to the vine, why do I feel as if I am starving? My conscience plagues me every day as I feel I’m spinning my wheels yet going nowhere.”
Jesus says, in this verse, that He has come for the purpose of giving those that love Him a more abundant life as opposed to the thief that has come to steal that very thing from the believer. As defined in the Strong’s Concordance, the thief “is an embezzler, a pilferer. It is a name transferred to false teachers who do not care to instruct men, but abuse their confidence for their own gain.” These thieves aim to “take away, sacrifice, slaughter, put out of the way and render useless” the life that has been given to the believer. In contrast, Jesus is come that we might take hold of and possess this life. In Strong’s, “that they might have” is defined beautifully: “to have in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating emotions, etc.) to hold fast and keep. To hold one’s self to a thing, to lay hold of a thing, to adhere or cling to; to be closely joined to a person or a thing.” Do you see the gift of God here and the responsibility of the believer?
We have been given life. This “life” refers to both the physical and the moral life, which truly belongs to God but has been given to us. Given. It’s a gift. This “life”, active and vigorous as it is meant to be, is to be devoted to God. Devoted: “zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty and affection”. As He possesses us, we are to possess, adhere and cling to, Him. He is to be what we have in our hands before us, what we are to wear, what is to possess our mind.
When religion, or the teaching of men, is my god I see all its particulars and am focused on them in order to please earthly authorities or peers. This causes self-focus and comparisons. I constantly ask, “Am I performing well enough? Am I living up to the standards? Am I doing better than the others? Am I enough?” With religion there is a shot at me making it to the top, reaching a place above others. Pride breeds in these conditions.
When God is my God I see all His particulars, His attributes in all their diversity and glory and am focused on them. He overtakes my thoughts because He is so big and all-consuming. I cannot possibly reach His potential. I see that this enormous spirit of Love and Truth and Justice has deigned to call me His beloved. This brings about humility. I see that He not only created me, but crafted me for a purpose: to bring glory to Him by pointing others to Him through my individual circumstances. My obstacle course, which He has set for me alone, can be run shouting, “Glory to God” all the way.
Individuality blossoms when focused on God and His many attributes and the Truth of His Word. Conformity supplants when our focus is on religion and its many rules and qualifications. Pleasing peers is on one level and pleasing God takes us to a whole other level. I love how everyone’s salvation testimony has the very same essentials, but the circumstances surrounding how they got to that point and where they go afterward are all different.
The abundant life is calling to you. It begins with the realization that He gave you a gift called life, both physical and spiritual life. Your race is against no one but yourself and your goal is to please your Father with your total devotion. “More abundantly” means, “superior, surpassing, extraordinary and uncommon.” It doesn’t mean, “just like everyone else and all in the same way.” God, the One and Only God, walks with you, the one and only you, in your unique circumstances, in this particular epoch of time, to draw you and those in your sphere of influence closer to Him, so that He can more abundantly bestow His love, mercy and truth upon us and upon those with whom we mingle as we walk this terrestrial ball.
What will you do with this? As you, in your mind’s eye, stand before His cross alone, just you and Him, what do you sense He is calling you to do? How has He crafted you? What is it that lights you up deep inside, so much so that it bursts right out of your eyes and your smile? What is it that gives you great joy? Please answer this in your own mind and take note of your very first response. Is it helping people solve problems? Do you love to learn new things and then share them with others? Do you love to teach people? Feed people? Do you love to see new places? Do you love working alone on a project, or maybe with a group towards a large goal? Your answer will shed light on the reason why you are here. God longs to grant you the desires of your heart because He has specifically placed those desires within you.
He has left clues for you in your genetic makeup and in those areas that bring you deep satisfaction even if they make no sense to a world that always asks, “Yeah, but can you make a living doing that?”
“Unity in diversity”. The world uses this phrase as a means of celebrating their differences and the belief that there is no one right way, but that everyone can do his own thing and that no one has a right to tell them any differently. However, like a wheel with no hub to hold them together and no tire or metal rim to keep them within bounds, the spokes will just fly apart. This phrase, “unity in diversity” is scary for the Christian because it’s easier to look like everyone else. We feel safer when we can compare ourselves amongst ourselves, but I’m pretty sure we are all thinking of the verse right now that tells us we aren’t supposed to do that. (2 Cor 10:12) Unity in Christ brought the believers together, but from there they spread out and carried the Gospel with them where and how the Lord led them according to the needs of the different types of people within those different spheres. Our hub is Christ: the LORD and the Word. Our rim is the principles of Scripture. We, being the spokes, point in various directions but all are working together for the same purpose: moving the Gospel message forward through time and space.
Abundant life? It’s yours for the seeing; for the seeing of Jesus and Him only. May your vision be so filled with Him that it overflows and consumes your heart, soul and mind. “This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt 22:37-38)