July 1, 2013

Several years ago I wrote a Bible Study titled,
I Could Sure Use Some S.L.O.W. Time … or Is It God Time? The study flowed from my desire to live the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10 when He said,The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
You see I found myself wanting more out of life than just mediocrity. Yes, I was saved. Yes, I was going to church, reading and studying the Bible, and yes, I was serving. Yet somewhere deep inside I was searching for more – more satisfaction from life, more contentment, more joy, more … Jesus.
So that was then and this is now. Once again at this stage in my life, I find myself asking the same question I asked many years ago: What is this abundant life Jesus promises in John chapter 10?
Let’s take a closer look at some key words in that verse.
The Greek word for abundantly in John 10:10 is perissos which more than necessary, exceeding abundantly, supremely, much more than all, superior, extraordinary, remarkable, excellent. 
Life in that verse is rendered from the Greek wordZoe, which refers to physical life and existence as opposed to death.
So an abundant life is one that is superior. It’s a life that exceeds expectation. It is extraordinary. And this life is found in and through Jesus! Oh, how much I desire to constantly and consistently live the abundant life Jesus promised.
Even today, as a seemingly mature Christian women’s ministry leader, I sometimes find myself going through life tired, hurried and often void of the “extraordinary.” Oh, I’m living, breathing, doing and going, but as I write this I realize I’ve slipped back into what I call the “hurried and heavy” rather than the“exceeding abundant.” 
How did I (we) get from “exceeding abundant” to“hurried and heavy?” The first part of John 10:10 gives us a clue.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy …
First of all, let’s clarify who the “thief” is. For the longest time I assumed the thief in this passage 
was Satan. Well, he certainly is a thief who desires 
to steal, kill and destroy (see 1 Peter 5:8John 8:44). However, upon closer examination of the passage in its context, you will see that the thieves to which Jesus refers are the false teachers who came before Him claiming His authority. (Read all of John chapters 9-10 for context.) Unlike Jesus who was prepared to die for His sheep in order to give them life, the thieves’ intentions were to steal, kill and destroy.
  • Steal – kleptō – to commit a theft, to take away by theft, take away by stealth
  • Kill – thyō  to sacrifice, immolate, to slay, slaughter
  • Destroy – apollymi – to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin render useless, to kill, to declare that one must be put to death, to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed
Jesus was the protector of His sheep. He wanted to heal His sheep that were injured. He purposed to keep His sheep safe and to give them a high quality of life – the abundant life, in fact. The “thief,” unlike the Shepherd, was selfish and self-seeking. Jesus healed a blind man in chapter 9 and the “thieves” cast the man out of the synagogue. So rather than welcoming him in and celebrating his restored health, they sought to steal his joy and kill his wonderful testimony of how Jesus made his life extraordinary.
Let’s apply this passage to our daily lives for a moment. When we accept the Good Shepherd, Jesus, we receive life, and the more Jesus we experience the greater that quality of life becomes. However, the world we live in is tainted with sin and we are exposed to the “thief” at every turn just as the sheep in this passage. We can’t leave Satan out of the equation because he too has a plan to take away our life. His plan is to slay the life offered to us through Jesus. He wants to put an end to, ruin and render useless the life God has for us just like the other thieves in this passage.
Take a moment and think of some thieves (false teachers, things that seem to offer life but really steal life from you, people or things that take rather than give life) that attempt to put an end to, ruin and render useless the life God has for you.
Here are a few that come to mind:
  • TV
  • “Things,” money, the better life
  • Knowledge
  • Job
  • Food, drink
  • Busyness
  • Technology
Honestly, the list could go on and on! Even though many of the things on our lists are not “bad,” they can steal, kill and destroy if we’re not careful.
There’s another problem as well. Sometimes the “thief” doesn’t steal the abundant life from me. Often I choose to forsake the things it takes to live the abundant life. You heard me right; I (and you) choose to forsake the abundant life. Yes, Jesus offers us life at no cost, but it’s not without some active participation on our part. And sometimes, I simply make choices and rob myself of the extraordinary life the Good Shepherd has for me.
We’re going to explore that more over the next few weeks, but until then think about these questions:
  • Are you often tired, wearied or burdened?
  • Do you think, “there’s got to be more to life than this?”
  • Are you living the abundant life, or are you simply going through the motions devoid of real joy and stressed?
  • Would you currently characterize your life as “hurried and heavy” or “exceeding abundant”? Why?
  • What can you begin doing TODAY to experience abundant life?
In this series we are going to S.L.O.W. down and consider five steps you can take to move from ordinary to extraordinary.
Jesus came to “shepherd” us through life. He desires to take care of us, give us green pastures, restore us and lead us. Does that sound familiar? Take some time this week to read Psalm 23 and find some rest for your soul!
Jacqueline C. Heider 
Director of Discipleship & Women’s Ministry