One of the encouraging passages we find in scripture is when Jesus said, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This is also one of the most misunderstood and misquoted passages, that often fuels the notion that salvation in Christ is a means to material gain.
To think of salvation in such a way is to cheapen the atoning sacrifice of Christ, rather than perceiving the greater blessings associated with this abundant life in Christ.
This abundant life speaks of our adoption into God’s family and kingdom, where we have access to the source of life and every blessing (James 1:17). It speaks of life where we have peace (Shalom) with God; peace in the midst of a storm and peace all around us. In alluding to this kind of peace, Solomon said, “But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune” (1 Kings 5:4). This abundant life also speaks of a life that is Spirit led and supernaturally empowered and favoured to accomplish God’s purposes in this world.
There is so much more that this abundant life means to the believer, but in the context of the passage (John 10:9-11), we are reminded that there are thieves and robbers out there, who intend to kill and destroy the sheep.
The caution is that, not all of these robbers and thieves look or act like one. They may promise greener pastures, but at what cost to one’s soul? They may promise freedom, unity and love, but at the expense of fundamental truth and honouring of God. They may even sound very convincing, but as believers (the sheep of Christ), we need discernment to distinguish between the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief.
If we are to be fruitful and live this abundant life, we must draw closer to the Good Shepherd. We must learn to discern the Shepherd’s voice from all the other voices. We must trust and follow the Shepherd, even in seasons that may seem turbulent, confusing or perhaps we may feel distant from Him.
As the branch cannot bear fruit or live without abiding in the vine, so it is with a sheep without its shepherd.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:9-11).
Be encouraged and trust in the Good Shepherd.