The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
It’s Saturday morning in South Carolina. Though it’s before 10 am, it’s already hot and I have a fan whirling. I sip my coffee and watch the birds visit the three bird feeders we’ve placed beyond the reach (at least for now) of relentless squirrel visits.
I love Saturday mornings. Unless I’ve packed my schedule too tightly, there’s time to sit and relish God’s nearness.
This morning I read John 10:10. I pause at the promise of abundant life.
Abundant Life. What does it really mean?
Through our country’s eyes, abundance has a lot to do with possessions. Yet we know this kind of abundance doesn’t produce abundant life.
Statistic show that half the world’s wealth is in the hands of 1% of the population. Can these 1% say their possessions have given them abundant life? History is dotted with sad stories that say no. Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes and Earnest Hemingway are just a few who lived in abundance of possessions, yet their lives ended sadly, not reflecting the abundant life Jesus is referring to.
In fact, it can be argued that abundant possessions inhibit abundant life. Stuff can drain much time and energy, leaving little margin for true abundance.
By implication, abundance can also be associated with success, good health and overall good circumstanced. There is certainly nothing wrong with desiring all these things, but we know that circumstantial happiness does not translate directly to abundant life either.
The abundant life Jesus refers is not tied to possessions or circumstances. In fact His abundant life is exponentially more satisfying and stable than either.
Years ago, during a two week missions trip to Lima Peru, I was deeply saddened by the living conditions I saw. Poverty forced mothers to do the unthinkable, releasing their young sons to fend for themselves on the streets.
Our group served at Casa Hogar, an orphanage designed to feed and educated these children. But many of the abandoned children were already steeped in a life of glue sniffing, stealing and prostitution. Chained to this life, they refused the long term help of the orphanage. Some were adopted, however, and shown the love of Jesus.
In spite of all the poverty and sadness in Lima, there was a quality of love we saw in the believers which I had not experienced in the United States. The folks who worked at Casa Hogar seemed to be refreshingly free from the pursuit of possessions and smooth circumstances.
We all experienced such a depth of the love of Jesus during our two weeks in Peru that many of us dreaded to return to the “rat race” of the American culture.
We had the audacity to think we were traveling to South America to “minster” the love of Jesus to folks in dire straights. But we were the ones who were deeply touched by the love of Jesus flowing through the Peruvians, even the children.
As I take another sip of coffee, and notice a squirrel repelling down a wire to once again help itself to our bird seed, I write the following words:
Abundant life is not abundant possessions or smooth circumstances. Abundant life is Abundant love.
The Bible is saturated with remarkable language about God’s love, but there is no better demonstration of abundant love than what Jesus did for each one of us on the cross.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)
As I watch the squirrel wrapped around the feeder, spilling seed everywhere, I conclude that the kind of abundant life Jesus promises us has everything to do with His love.
But how does God’s abundant love translate into an abundant life for us on a day by day basis? In other words, what is our part in God’s story of abundant love?
I believe the answer is in John 15.
In verse 9, we get a such an astounding definition of abundant love that only the Spirit of God can fully reveal it to our hearts. Jesus tells us “Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you;”
Pause a moment. Jesus loves us as much as God the Father loves Him. This is stunning!
Allow this truth full access to your heart, penetrating every hardened sinew of protection and blowing away every argument of self hatred.
Jesus loves us beyond our comprehension and He demonstrated it by dying in our place on the cross
The second part of John 15:9 is a command:
“Remain in my love.”
Remain where God has placed us, in the love of Jesus. We did nothing to earn this love, ours is to not move from where we have been placed.
Verses 10 and 12 tell us how.
If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love. (10)
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. (12)
We remain in Jesus love, by loving like Him; by being willing in every situation to love sacrificially. This is what we experienced in Peru; folks being freed up from chasing possessions and smooth circumstances to love like Jesus in spite of their poverty and difficulties.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to not have the burden of the “rat race” facing us every day; to rather ask God each day, by the Indwelling Spirit of Christ, to love the people He brings our way; to yield to the Spirit in us to allow Him to love as us.
This is abundant life. Allowing the abundant love of Jesus to flow through us. ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
If you don’t see already that abundant life is abundant love, allow me to seal the deal.
Couched in between verses 10 and 12 in John 15 is the following verse:
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:11
Abundant life is abundant love.
 Romans 5:8
 Ephesians 2:4-5