Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
This is a quote that I never gave much thought to. Just recently, I briefly heard someone talking about it. I did not hear everything, but just enough that made me want to know more. What is abundant life, and how do we achieve it.
When I read of Jesus’ healings of the sinners, the lame, the lepers, the mentally ill, the blind, the cointaken from the fish’s mouth to pay a bill, and how he calmed the storm, and so much more, I thought oh, how wonderful. I was beginning to understand how the healings came about but, did not think beyond the healing to what it meant in their lives. I see now that the healing was just the beginning.
For the sinners, they now were living a more respectful life. The lame could do so much more and join in with others in a more joyful way. The lepers, oh the lepers, were no longer outcasts and were let back into society; they could mingle with friends again. The mentally ill, they now had a life. And the blind, how wonderful to see this beautiful world and be able to function on their own. Many of these people depended on help from others and had to beg for money and food. Now they were able to make a living on their own. What freedom they now had. They now had life, and they had it more abundantly. More abundant joy, freedom, and life, a more abundant expression of God.
There is another way to a more abundant life. It is said in most religious traditions that an essential element in any human philosophy is renunciation. I was beginning to see that abundance was not just financial gains but covered all the aspects of human life, things like happiness and independence.
“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)
The first part of this quote I liken to the serpent, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16, 17)
Eating of that tree put us on a journey not created by God. A journey through this material existence, “yea, thou we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” as it states in the 23rd Psalm. We are born into it and die out of it. We can live in the shadow or rise above it to a more spiritual point of view and see God’s eternal creation, here and now.
The serpent (the thief that cometh) lied when he said eating the forbidden fruit would make us as gods; in fact, it did the opposite and made us unlike God. The knowledge of good and evil (this material world) brings death. It clearly states, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” It does not mean die at that moment, but that is all we have to look forward to in the valley. Before that day, we knew only eternal life. Now we fight daily to renounce beliefs that seem to separate us from God.
Here is something to think about. The serpents hidden lie seeped into the human consciousness and grew through the old testament. The lie got so big the serpent became the red dragon in Revelations. God sent Jesus to uncover the lie and show us the truth about who we are. That made the lie so obvious that it lost its power to hurt us, and the red dragon was destroyed. This is what we need to do, destroy the red dragon in our consciousness and be set free. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. … And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:3, 9)
Paul writes, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” (II Corinthians 1:12) Our conversations reveal our standpoint. We need to be careful not to get drawn into ungodly conversations.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10) When we live in accord with God, He works through us, and by his grace, we achieve greatness.
Some think that renunciation deprives us of something we want and enjoy. Sometimes it seems that way, but in the end, you will see that you have not lost anything but gained something more meaningful and satisfying. God made this world for us to enjoy, to have an abundant life – happy, adventurous, and exciting.
Sometimes we are enjoying things that are not right for us. And that experience is preventing us from expressing God’s qualities and demonstrating who we are as God’s child. We need to make a choice. Are we seeking the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or are we seeking to know the grace of God, and renouncing the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, that God warned us not to eat?
Years ago, when I began my new adventure into a more spiritual life, this is what happened to me. For many years I enjoyed going with friends to a nearby bar. We drank, laughed, danced, and had a great time.
Slowly things started to change. I found the conversations went to subjects I no longer wanted to talk about. In came the red dragon. I was fighting it as I did not want to give up my playful weekends at the bar with my friends. But it was pulling me away from the new path I chose to follow. It made me think about things that I had to unthink when I got home. I had to make a choice, and I chose God and stopped going to the bar. Some friends continued to visit me for a while but eventually stopped. I had changed, and we were no longer traveling the same path.
I felt I had lost something, but along came God, and the red dragon was destroyed. We can never be deprived of anything that is God-sanctioned. Companionship is just that. “Kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations are necessary to the formation of a happy and permanent companionship.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 60:4–6)
I found a friend at church. We hit it off and started going out to dinner and a movie every Friday night for the next ten years. This was a better kind of friendship for me as we were like-minded, and the conversations never went to subjects that pulled us away from God. The joy of friendship was back in my life. 😊
That friend passed away about fifteen years ago, and I miss her. But I did not despair. I moved from Michigan to Missouri and soon found another friend. She likes the path I am taking and enjoys talking about it. She does not attend church but is interested in spiritual ideas. She reads all my blogs before I post them. I try not to get too metaphysical or use religious jargon, and she helps me keep on track.
Here is another example of Loss being Gain and providing a more abundant life.
Nine years ago, I weighed over 300 pounds. I had fought a weight problem all my life. At sixty-nine, I knew this was a serious problem, and I had to do something. I was not having life more abundantly; except I ate an abundance of bad food. ☹ However, I thought it was incredibly good and tasty. 😊
The first thing I had to do was renounce the belief (the red dragon) that the older you get, the more difficult it is to lose weight. That is a self-defeating prophecy. Furthermore, a spiritual idea of God’s is ageless. The red dragon lost its power to hurt me and was destroyed. I will not give you all the details on how I lost 150 pounds as it would make the blog too long. I will say this, for years I followed many different diets that claim weight loss, and I lost weight, but it never lasted. After a while, my weight went back up and then some. This time I created my own diet and it worked. Part of it was listening for the ‘still small voice’ and following its advice.
I discovered an abundance of foods out there that are healthy that I had never tried before. I exchanged all that tasty bad food I loved for all the delicious, good food, which I also love. I also found I was satisfied with smaller quantities of food and was amazed that the weight just fell off, and I am sure it will never come back. I love the way I eat now and am very satisfied. I learned that what I eat ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has no effect on who I am or how I function as a spiritual idea of God. I am never tempted to go back to old ways of eating. We can never return to a position outgrown.
The difference this made in my life has been remarkable. At 78 and my current weight, I am healthy, active, and able to do things I have not done in years. I love my life now, and for that, I am grateful for Jesus’ teachings and our Father God. 😊 There is another way to see that quote. “I am come that they might have life (God), and that they might have it (Him) more abundantly.” God is my life and I now see His creation more abundantly. 😊
The sermon on the mount is there for us. It shows us the right path to take. All of Jesus’ parables are there for us, to teach us how to make the right choices. All his healings are there for us, to show us what is possible if we pattern our lives after his teachings.
The path I have chosen has brought me great joy. I suffer no more from the effects of child abuse. It is like it never happened. In fact, it never happened to God’s child; she was always safe in his care.
I am having life and having it more abundantly. You can too.
Much love, Michele