THE ABUNDANT LIFE: CRITICAL QUESTIONS
What is it about the abundant life that is attractive, that makes it worth seeking? Join me on this journey as I reflect on three questions: why choose it, what is it, and where may it be found?
WHY CHOOSE THE ABUNDANT LIFE?
The beauty of the concept of the abundant life begins with the sense that it is not “excess.” There is also the notion that it encompasses wholesome things and that it spreads a very wide net over what is included under its banner. It speaks to a sort of a bounteous richness of a qualitative nature, not one of egregious quantity, especially quantity for its own sake. We have a generous God who desires that our cup runneth over; why would we dismiss His lavish offer? Ultimately, it has a pleasing ring to it, underpinned by a firm spiritual reality; it is about a meaningful, purposeful life, a life worth living.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.JOHN 10:10, KJV
WHAT IS THE ABUNDANT LIFE?
What is included in the abundant life?
It contains happiness, joy, and fulfillment but is not restricted to these. It includes the opportunity to enjoy and share blessings of good times with good people.
It involves wisdom and the ability to discern truth from lies, what is healthy from what destroys, and substance from the superficial.
The abundant life also accepts the world as it is and life with all its unfairness, tragedy, and vanity without despairing.
In the abundant life you may find some what some might call unlikely candidates; humility, service, sacrifice, gratitude and charity.
A simple but powerful approach to discovering the abundant life is to read the parables, Beatitudes, and Gospel stories. Though requiring considerable thought-you can’t just blow through them despite their seeming simplicity-they can cut through the religious haze to what is important to understand. I continue to marvel at the profound depth of these treasures, a depth that has no bottom. When confronted with deep theological issues, I turn to “what did Christ do, what did he say.” And regarding stories, especially from the Old Testament, be prepared for some raw material.
In the final analysis, the abundant life is the limitless life as long as you seek the higher things of life.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Matthew 6:25 NIV
WHERE IS THE ABUNDANT LIFE TO BE FOUND?
My continuing search for the abundant life includes living it, understanding it, and praying it.
Living to discern the abundant life has taken me in unexpected directions. I will share one example. My wife and I enjoy a comfortable retirement, in a comfortable neighborhood, without financial or health issues. Under these conditions it is all too easy to live an isolated life that is inwardly directed.
But the abundant life is not intended to be lived in isolation. Around us, even in an affluent area, there is so much need, poverty, injustice, cruelty, suffering, and pain. These claw at me and I find new purpose and fulfillment only by entering into these conditions
The lesson life has taught me, and continues to instruct me in, is to enter into the lives of others where abundance is thin or lacking.
Understanding the abundant life is a function of following my hardwired preferences: thoughtfully studying it, creative thinking, seeking wise teachers, and expressing it in words, as I am doing here.
My primary resources are books, especially the Bible, and many, many different Bible commentaries and translations. (I use Bible Gateway as a major resource for my daily reflections for my Bible SPA -Study, Pray, Act.) Creative thinking includes looking at life in its infinite forms with an eye toward wrestling out truth. Wise teachers include great preachers, the lives (past and present) of those who have discovered their own abundance, and faith-based organizations.
Praying the abundant life is simply to connect with my higher power to accomplish in me what I cannot do for myself; this is humility. It is missing the mark repeatedly and making course corrections daily; this is repentance. It is getting along with my neighbor; this is reconciliation.
seek, and you will findMatthew 7:7, NIV
FALSE GODS AND LIES: OBSTACLES TO AN ABUNDANT LIFE
False gods lead us astray in many ways. They deny what we know to be true or good. False gods destroy, they do not build up. They compound problems and give only the impression of a solution. They deceive, not clarify. They offer easy options to situations that can only be addressed with the willingness to accept painful reality. They give the illusion of strength, when in reality they rob us of real strength.
Discover the false gods that seek to destroy you like a “roaring lion.”
In my book, Destroy These False Gods: 101 False Gods To Destroy Before They Destroy You, I identify 101 false gods that seek to divert us from a life of true joy, purpose, and strength. They are divided into 5 categories:
1. Hatred of the Holy. These are false gods whose hated is almost palpable. There is nothing subtle in their efforts. They desire to separate us from the holy and form idols in our hearts.
2. False Gods of Deceit and Deception. These are false gods that appear to act as well-meaning guides but mislead by deceit, false logic, and misdirection. They try to confuse us, imply that missing the mark is acceptable, and that myopia is normal.
3. False Gods of The Low Road. These false gods would have us settle for less or less than the best, entice us to take the low road, accept the small picture, and take the easy way out.
4. False Gods of Ignorance. These false gods prey upon ignorance, deny reality, apply false logic, minimize consequences and use devious means to distract us.
5. False Gods of Vanity. These are the false gods of presumption, self-importance, pride and vanity. They offer only the choice of self-serving values.
This book is about vulnerability-our vulnerability to the arrogant notion that we can create a designer god to suit our own purposes and have a truly meaningful and abundant life, a bountiful and spiritually luxurious life that embraces the greatest joy and deepest sorrow, and everything in between.
The lies we believe rob us of freedom, purpose and power. The 7 Higher Pursuits can help us reclaim our lives when we confront these lies and replace them with truth. Read my thought piece, The Truth About Lies, based on the book Higher Pursuits: Overcoming the Lies that Keep Us from Freedom, Power, and Purpose. Kindle Edition, by Dave Bowerman.
Bowerman uncovers these 7 lies and then proceeds to identify the problem with each lie and the solution to the lie:
- Moral Relativism
Read Higher Pursuits for a deep dive into the nature of lies and a Biblical context to the path to freedom, power, and purpose.