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
“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.”