[Jesus said] “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.” John 10:9-10
Jesus said he came so that God’s people may have life in abundance. More often than not, when humans think of life in abundance, we think of the many comforts and good things we would have. But Jesus didn’t promise “things” in abundance, he promised “life” in abundance. Truthfully, spending too much time on accumulation and consumption of “things” leaves precious little time for life. It leaves little time for worship, fellowship with God’s people, relationships, and building a faithful community.
The world of accumulation and consumption takes us away from God and from one another. It becomes a lonely and isolated life. Such a life stores earthly treasure up in barns rather than storing treasures in heaven. The thieves and robbers of the world, the voices of consumerism, materialism and competition would have us believe we are lacking and lagging behind our neighbor.
Too often we see this even in our churches; congregations focused on “things” in abundance have little life. Congregations focused on earthly abundance spend time a lot of time building, dressing and filling barns with more and more stuff. When we become preoccupied with ourselves, there is too little time for fellowship, relationships, and ministry in the community. Our Good Shepherd helps us to understand all of this.
The Good Shepherd text is sandwiched in between stories of Jesus restoring eyesight to the blind and the raising of Lazarus. God wants us to “see” correctly what abundant life is. It’s seeing Jesus for who he is. It’s hearing the voice of our Good Shepherd calling us to live according to God’s will, not ours. It’s understanding that through God in Christ Jesus we are saved, and those who have faith and follow the example of the Good Shepherd are raised to new life in God’s kingdom.
Life in abundance means life together as God’s people, tuning out the voices of the world and listening to the voice of our Good Shepherd. We must become people who spend much time together in worship, prayer and reading the Bible together. The Church must be a family in Christ that goes out into the community and does the work of God for the sake of others. In this way we share our lives as Christ shared his. We speak with voices of faith, so others may hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, follow him into the sheepfold and share with us the abundance of God’s kingdom.