What does “the abundant life” look like in the 21st century?
Abundance means more than enough. However, a distinction must be made between biblical “abundant life” and an Americanized gospel that often comprehends abundance in purely financial terms. God wants to bless His children with more than enough, financially and in every way. Yet it must be said God’s abundance is more than stuff.
An abundance of Spirit and fullness of life should be characteristic of believers, not just in the prosperous West but anywhere and in any era. In Philippi, when Paul and Silas were imprisoned, stripped, beaten, and impoverished, they didn’t possess just enough faith to endure. The uncontainable abundance of their praise set both themselves and their jailer free.
At the end of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting, it was with an abundance of food, power, and things that Satan tempted Him. It’s a sublime irony that spiritual fullness—abundant life—rendered such temptation impotent. Perhaps David said it best: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
—Mark Rutland, founder and president of Global Servants, speaker, radio host, and author of 21 Seconds to Change Your World
We live in a time when life is getting more and more fluid and unanchored. This can feel like an expansion of freedom, but in fact it makes us feel vulnerable and increasingly alone. In our present circumstances, the abundant life flows from loyalties that anchor and arrest us, not open-ended possibilities and the illusion that we can define our lives for ourselves. The person who enters into covenants—marriage, family, and faith—finds fullness of life. In our dissolving age, this won’t come automatically. Many institutions that once evoked our loyalty are weakened. We’re going to have to venture commitments in an uncertain, untrustworthy postmodern world. We’re going to have to take the risk of using our freedom to bind ourselves to things greater than freedom.
—R. R. Reno, editor of First Things and author of Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society
As an atheist, I figured that the most logical way to live would be as a hedonist. So I lived an immoral, drunken, and narcissistic life. I was full of rage because I was always after the perfect experience of pleasure, but everything let me down.
Then I met Jesus, and He has never let me down. As I have yielded my life more and more to Him, I’ve found that He alone can bring true fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy. He promises an abundant life—not one devoid of problems, but a gratifying journey with the One who is the answer to all of our concerns.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). For that reason, my first question to myself and others is this: Are you submitting your whole self to Him so that He can take you on the adventure of a lifetime?
—Lee Strobel, speaker, apologist, and author of more than 20 books, including The Case for Christ
The abundant life will envision a fusion of heavenly reality with the “new earth,” a working out of divine imagination working through human faculties. We will be known by our generative, fruitful acts of making progress toward this new integration. Of course, in our fallen reality, we may have to accomplish this through perseverance, through persecutions and trials of all kinds, which I have called our “Ground Zero” experiences.
—Makoto Fujimura, artist, director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, and author of Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering
Illustration by Gemma O'Brien