When Jesus called us to follow Him, He told us that we must take up our cross and follow Him. He didn't tell us that we would be rich and famous. Indeed, Jesus says:
Don t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT)
I realize there are those who attempt to paint a picture of Jesus being wealthy and successful in the terms of this world. While it is true that there was a period of time during his earthly ministry that great crowds flocked to hear him and that Jesus knew wealthy people of influence, he appears to be an itinerant rabbi. During the time of His ministry, we have no indication that He has a permanent abode. Not only is Jesus subjected to the most degrading form of death in the Roman empire; He is also buried in a borrowed tomb.
The picture of the Gospels paint of the Apostles is no better in terms of material wealth. Instead a picture is painted of hardship and persecution. Leaving all behind, they followed Christ... to their deaths yet I believe every single one of them would say that they lived an abundant life.
What is an abundant life? Well, the word abundant means that we are amply supplied... supplied with what? Supplied with life. We not only have life! We have it more abundantly!
I'd like to illustrate what I am trying to say by comparing my "life" now to when I was having cancer treatment. Obviously I had "life" while I was going through dose-dense chemo but let me paint a picture of what that life looked like. I lost all my hair, my skin was gray, everything tasted bland and I had no energy. I was tired all the time. Because the nerves in my feet and legs were affected, I would hobble slowly about. I would go to church and go to chemo for the most part. That was my life. Oh, and I'd creep out of bed to write and read blogs. I was living but it was a very different way from what I had been living. I was grateful that I had life but... how ecstatic would you be to live life like that? I thought not.
This is just simply living.
Then there came a day when chemo was over. Radiation was over. Although I was quite feeble, I danced with joy on that day. Why? Because that was behind me and now I could really live once again. Each day I grew stronger, each day a little more hair grew back and my complexion improved. I remember the day about six months after chemo ended. I was riding in the car and suddenly it was like a switch got turned on. I startled my poor husband as I screamed out. "Oh, I feel sooooooooooooo alive!" Yes, I had been "alive" before but now, I felt it with every fiber of my being. Physically I was filled with abundant life!
Think back to when you were spiritually dead. When you received Christ, what happened? How did you feel? Oh, I was just a young girl but I felt such excitement, such joy. I felt soooooooooo alive!
When Jesus said
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b) I do not believe he was talking about the riches of this world. I believe He was talking about life in Him. No longer dead in sin, we are alive in Christ and that, my friends, is abundant life.