Abundant life for Christians
Christians: Winners or losers?
Answer: Winners ...
(but not in the way many think)
A story is told – and I have every reason to believe it is true – of a man of God who was recently shown through a magnificent church property. I don’t have the details, but it could have been any one of a number of papal palaces or stone basillicas filled with art treasures across Europe, or contemporary cathedrals filled with the latest electronics and broadcasting facilities anywhere in North America.
“See,” the man was told, “no longer can the church say, ‘Silver and gold have I none’.”
“Yes,” was the response. “But neither can the church say, ‘Arise and walk’.”
Just in case you are not familiar with the Bible story that is alluded to, it is to be found in [Acts 3:1-10].
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.×
The apostles were despised and persecuted and materially impoverished [1 Corinthians 4:11-13].
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”×
However, the power of God was at work in their midst. As in the story of Peter and the cripple, it was all for a purpose [Acts 3:11-19] – as a witness and unto the salvation of many.
While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord …”×
The Bible warns us not to see the Christian life as an opportunity to get rich [1 Timothy 6:5 and 1 Timothy 6:9].
1 Timothy 6:5
… men who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1 Timothy 6:9
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.×
Jesus promised His followers “abundant life” or “life to the full”.
… I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it to the full”
This verse is found in John 10:10. But what does it mean?
It certainly does not mean a promise of material abundance. We read in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
We see that “the abundant life” means to take hold of the life that is truly life – life in the Spirit; nearness to God; the power of His presence.
What do you greatly desire now that you have come to know Him?