Summary: “What difference does being a Christian make?” We have the words to use that say we are different, but do we demonstrate the difference?

Live in Abundance, Fully

John 10:10

“What difference does being a Christian make?” We have the words to use that say we are different, but do we demonstrate the difference? My guess is that those who don’t appear to be different from the rest of the crowd are not living an abundant life. The life that Christ came to give all of us.

Our world is full of unhappy and dissatisfied people. For this reason, people everywhere are looking for answers to the emptiness they feel inside. These people will try anything, if it might bring them some sort of satisfaction or happiness. Perhaps this explains why there is so much divorce, suicide, thoughts of suicide, drug dependency, alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, prostitution, sexual impurity, depression, pornography, eating disorders, emotional, and psychological disorders. All they would have to do is look at what God has given them through Jesus.

A fuller life, Scripture says this

John 10:10 NIV

10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Peterson says it well here in the Message

John 10:10 The Message

10A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

1. Abundant living is a life that is filled with the things that are good for us.

People who enjoy the abundant life will possess all of these qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, purity, humility, modesty, faith, character, wisdom, enthusiasm, dignity, optimism, confidence, honesty, and a relationship with God. In other words, the abundant life is full of all the things money can’t buy. No matter how much money you have, you can not buy more patience, self-control, or salvation! Hardware stores do not sell wisdom or hope. And yes, you can possess all of these qualities! You can get everyone of these things from God, who is the giver of all good things. The Bible says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change...", James 1:17. But the Bible also says, "You do not have, because you do not ask God," James 4:2.

Are you in pursuit of the abundant life?

James 1:17 NIV

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 4:2 NIV

2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

We must, therefore, realize that no matter how much happiness a non-Christian experiences, it is unfortunately limited in quality and it’s only temporary. The facts are, anyone without the saving grace of Jesus, is spiritually dead. A person cannot live the "abundant life" if they are spiritually dead. The Bible says, "God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ (even when we were dead)," Ephesians 2:4. If you are in Christ, the abundant life is waiting for you!

Ephesians 2:4&5 NIV

4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved

Being saved is great. It’s vital. But it’s not the end—-it’s the beginning. There’s so much more that will fulfill us, complete us, satisfy us, and make us joyful. So, if Christ promised abundance, why do we go through life as Christians and appear not much different than our non-Christian friends?

2. How to identify the "Abundant Life".

I read an article a few years back and it went like this: “A nurse named Melanie was on her way to work when something in the trash bin caught her eye. She was immediately taken with the possibilities in the discarded treasure. It was a cello, slightly cracked in several places, but nonetheless a discard of character, a piece charming to the eye. Her boyfriend, who is a cabinetmaker, also saw the cello’s potential. Together they thought it could be turned into a beautifully distinctive CD holder. The discarded cello was indeed old and it had been abandoned, though authorities are not sure why or how it ended up in the trash that day. But a most shocking revelation to the nurse (and arguably to the thief as well) was the fact that it was not merely an old cello. It is one of only 60 like it in the world made by master craftsman Antonio Stradivari in 1684. The 320-year-old masterpiece, valued at 3.5 million dollars, was stolen from a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra just weeks before it sat rescued in Melanie’s apartment with dreams of becoming a CD holder. In the music world ‘Stradivarius’ is an untouchable description. Neither scientist nor musician understand the difference between the ‘voice’ of a Stradivarius versus the voice of modern violins and cellos, but the distinction is real — and costly. They are the most sought after musical instruments in the world, works of art in their own right, coveted by collectors and players alike. To be in the presence of a Stradivarius is to be in the presence of something great — whether it is recognized or not.”

The thief put it on the trash pile, and even Melanie did not see the splendor of what she was holding. That is the way your life is. It has enormous value. Though you might not see it yet, but God does.

The "Abundant life" life means that there is an abundance of something. This, of course, is referring to life itself. Such a person is getting the most out of life. They are living it to the fullest. They are not just merely existing, or simply "trying to make a living." That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 6:25 to not worry about our life, what we will eat or drink, and what we will wear. If we allow ourselves to remain preoccupied with what we consider to be basic necessities, we will not be able to enjoy "abundant life". It is a mistake to allow "the urgent" to control you, because that will cause you to miss out on what is truly important.

Matthew 6:25 NIV

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

As you learn to see what life is all about, you will begin to see all around you, many who are successfully living their own "life to the full". These people quietly go about their lives full of meaning and hope, happiness, satisfaction and health, vitality, and peace of mind. They enjoy quality friendships, have good family relations, and a strong faith in God.

Their life becomes an adventure worth living.

A good description of Abundant living.

You and the Church are living the "Abundant life" when...

1. You clearly understand that failure is an event, not a person; that yesterday ended last night, and today is your brand new day.

2. You have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and optimistic about your future.

3. You know that success doesn’t make you, and failure doesn’t break you.

4. You are filled with faith, hope, and love, and live without anger, greed, guilt, envy, or thoughts of revenge.

5. You are mature enough to delay gratification and shift your focus from your rights to your responsibilities.

6. You know that failure to stand for what is morally right is the prelude to being the victim of what is criminally wrong.

7. You are secure in who you are, so you are at peace with God and in fellowship with man.

8. You have made friends of you adversaries, and have gained the love and respect of those who know you best.

9. You understand that others can give you pleasure, but genuine happiness comes from doing things for others.

10. You are pleasant to the grouch, courteous to the rude, and generous to the needy.

11. You love the unlovable, give hope to the hapless, friendship to the friendless, and encouragement to the discouraged.

12. You can look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.

13. You know that "he who would be the greatest among you must become the servant of all".

14. You recognize, confess, develop, and use your God-given physical, mental, and spiritual abilities to the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.

15. You stand in front of the Creator of the universe and He says to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Jesus said, "Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours," Mark 11:24.

Mark 11:24 NIV

24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

How do we do this? We don’t God does.

Ephesians 3:20 NIV

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

WOW lets how The Message puts this

Ephesians 3:20 The Message

20God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Philippians 4:13 NIV

13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Peterson hits home again here as he says it this way.

Philippians 4:13 The Message

13Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

A good dictionary will define the word "full" as "complete, perfect, being at the highest or greatest degree, the maximum". So when this word is in reference to one’s life, it would mean a life that is complete, not lacking in anything essential. It would imply that one’s life was successful, superior, having an abundance of quality and life. The good news is that not only did Jesus come to save us, but he also came to give us an abundant life. This is much like a second blessing: eternal life, plus "life to the full"! I’m convinced the reason why so many Christians are not living life to the full is because they don’t know what it is! Many Christians don’t really think that such a life is available to them. How sad!

Is that how you feel?

You can change that thinking right now by allowing Jesus to have your life and make it more than you ever dreamed. But it’s your choice.