“The Good Life” a 1970’s BBC comedy in England, shows the antics of a successful couple who leave their high-paying jobs in order to live a simple life off of the land at their average neighborhood house. They say they are living more simply and establishing the good life. Their exasperated friends, who just happen to live next door, cannot understand their abandoning the good life they had as a result of their jobs.
What is a good life? In one way or another everyone wants to live the good life. We are constantly bombarded through conversations, magazines, TV and movies with the world’s definition of the good life. Is it having the right job and finding the right broker so you can retire where and when you want? Is it having all the latest and best electronic toys? Is it how we look or what we wear? Does it come from the car we drive or the house we own? Do we obtain a full life championing political causes? Do we receive fulfillment by becoming powerful in the business world? Some advertisements even do their best to tell you the good life is found in what you drink. Most people consider causes and material possessions the sources of a deep and meaningful life.
The world’s obsession with having the good life shows the deep hunger everyone has for something more. The world longs for meaning and value. This pursuit actually frustrates and leaves people empty since the world cannot provide fulfillment. I inherited a t-shirt from our son a few years ago when he left for college. It reads, “He who dies with the most toys still dies.”
Jesus Calls us to Live
Jesus said he came so that we “might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The word we translate abundant or full means more than just adequate. It is used to indicate when something is sumptuous or even superfluous. Jesus says he came so that we might have a life that is fuller and richer than we can imagine. I look at the church in our affluent society and wonder if we are experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised.
What is an abundant life for a Christian? The key is in the context in which Jesus makes this promise. In John 10 Jesus is telling his followers that he is the Good Shepherd for his sheep. His sheep know his voice. The shepherd leads, provides for and protects the sheep. An abundant life is one lived under the guidance, care and protection of our great shepherd. An abundant life is one where we listen to and follow our Shepherd.
This life is not as elusive as people think. It is available in all our normal areas of life like our families, homes, churches and jobs. We experience and grow in our abundant life in the midst of these. It is while we are living that we experience Jesus as our shepherd who is with us. He is here to guide and protect us. He came so that we could experience this abundant life. It is neither dry nor boring. Why would we ever pursue anything else? This is Jesus’ intent for us.
We begin making progress to an abundant life by following our shepherd. This involves many issues associated with guidance, provision and protection. These are content for another study. Scripture encourages us repeatedly to quit thinking like the world and learn to think as God directs. The Lord alone defines a full life for us.
If listening to and following our shepherd is how we live an abundant life, then what are some of the signs of this life? Take some time to think and pray through this question. First, as we said, it is a life led by the Lord. Second, it is a life where the promises of scripture are becoming a growing reality in our lives. Flip through the pages of the Bible and locate descriptions of what our amazing life is like as a result of our relationship with Jesus our shepherd. Look at passages like Matthew 5 – 7; Romans 6; Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5; Ephesians 6; 2 Timothy 1:7. There are so many passages to mention, but I am more interested in you scanning the pages of scripture yourself than naming every passage that describes the life that is ours in Christ.
This does not mean every moment will be packed with excitement. It does means every moment is an adventure with God. Don’t be satisfied with a merely adequate life aimlessly drifting along. Why continue living a mediocre life when abiding peace and overflowing joy are available? In the stillness of the morning, in every task of the day, we can know abundance from the Lord.
Do you have a sense of growing into abundance? Pray for it. Pursue abundance. Learn what scripture says about abundance, and what others have learned. Take time to be still and think about it. Step out in faith and begin to truly live. The author of Hebrews does not list the great heroes of faith in chapter 11 as a simple history lesson. He tells us about all these who lived by faith so that he can say to us,
“since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
(Hebrews 12:1 – 2)