THE ABUNDANT CHRISTIAN LIFE
P. Samuel Manoharam
Are we living the abundant Christian life? The Holy Bible says that Christ came into this world to give us life abundantly, and He promised to give such a life to everyone who desired to follow Him (Jn.10:10). Unfortunately, this vitally important theme is being neglected in our present-day sermons and preaching, which is one of the major dimensions of Christian Philosophy.
What Is Abundant Life?
The abundant Christian life is a Christ-centred spiritual life, experiencing the wonders, joys and victories of climbing higher and higher with Christ, walking in faith with Him, and meeting all the challenges on the way in our spiritual journey of life in this world. It is a wonderful experience of climbing the mountain of Christian faith, and reaching its peak of glory with confidence. Finally, we attain the fulfilment of arriving at the goal of our heavenly home, to enjoy eternal life with Christ, experiencing throughout the exhilaration of such a climb.
The core purpose of our existence in this world is to live a joyful life, keeping God along with us all the time to lead us safely till we reach our final eternal destination. Unfortunately, there are some among us who misinterpret Christ's promise of abundant life to mean a comfortable life-style, constant happiness, realisation of their dreams and instant relief from problems such as sickness and poverty, through faith and prayer. They expect the Christian life to be easy and cosy. They imagine that God simply exists to serve us in our selfish pursuits of personal fulfilment. In fact, such thinking leads to total disillusionment and is nothing but a denial of reality. This ill-conceived understanding needs to be corrected, in order to comprehend properly what Christ meant when He talked about abundant life.
God insists on our spiritual prosperity. He knows our material needs and He grants them even without our asking. We might have experienced this in our lives many times. God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our Christian character for heavenly purposes. God's goal for our life on earth is not comfort, but character development, because character is the real worth of a person, according to God's standards and measurements. In fact, the development of Christ-like character must be the ultimate goal of every believer in Christ.We will take on this character, when we spend more time in fellowship with Christ, walking with Him every day, with devotion and dedication.
Abundant life will give us a radiant personality with Christ-centred life, strengthening our inner resources such as spiritual vitality, joy, peace, security, etc., manifesting in our outer life, making us vibrant and powerful, totally unaffected by any event in our life. The beauty of such a life is that even in the midst of trials and troubles, we can know the joy and peace of God. This is the secret of living the abundant life.
For experiencing the abundant life, there should be total self-surrender to God. Self-surrender is the door of abundant life. The principle of self-abandonment operates in our self-giving and self-sacrifice, which is nothing but taking up of the cross and following Christ in His footsteps. Christ will reign in our lives, empowering and enabling us to live higher spiritual life in this world, and also to have the hope of spending eternity with Him.
Abundant life is possible only when we are completely under the lordship of Christ. We can live abundantly when we are under the absolute control of the Holy Spirit. This can happen only after giving up our old carnal, selfish and sinful ways of life. The Holy Spirit is the only source of power for us to lead the spiritual life. Dependence on God, through the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, is at the core of our walk with Christ.
We cannot have a meaningful relationship with God by our own self-effort, neither can we develop true spirituality through our own strength. If we do this, our efforts will be futile and we can never be Christ-like. It is essential for us to live as true Christians, in order to impact the godless world around us, as Christ asked us. There can be no Christianity without the Holy Spirit. When there is no indwelling Holy Spirit, we will live miserably, lacking in wisdom, power, strength, joy and peace, leading meaningless and empty lives.
The Lord expects that everyone, who desires to follow Him, must spiritually experience the thrill of living abundantly, seeking eternal riches, instead of earthly riches. Living such a life is truly victorious, dynamic, and meaningful. In other words, it is experiencing the fullness of life. Sadhu Sundar Singh said, "We are born in the natural world. But we should learn to live in the supernatural world of God. The only hope of this world is true spirituality in our way of life." Briefly, this is the kernel of the glorious abundant Christian living.
Should we not, then, pay attention to this vital need?