When Jesus said He had come that we “may have life, and have it to the full”—or “abundantly,” as another translation says—what do you think He was envisioning? What did He mean by full or abundant? What would that kind of life look like?
We all have different ideas of what abundance or fullness would entail. We might envision all sorts of comforts and conveniences and experiences and relationships, all of which are good, but there are also people around the world with much less who might say something like having a roof over their heads or never having to wonder where their next meal is coming from. So what was Jesus referring to?
It helps to remember where life itself comes from. Our God is the creator and sustainer of life, so without Him there is no life. And it stands to reason that more life, full life, abundant life comes through Him. Sure, we may find some joy or satisfaction in something we achieve or buy or receive, but ultimately those things are possible because of God’s infinite grace and loving provision. This abundant, full life can be experienced whether we have plenty or not because it’s found in God Himself. From our perspective, it seems paradoxical (see Matt. 16:24-26 and Phil. 1:21)—I have to give up life to get life… excuse me, what?!—yet this mystery is deeply and profoundly true.
The more we seek to know Jesus, press into God’s Word, delight in Him, and pursue His will above all else, the less we tend to prioritize ourselves, our own needs and desires, and our own happiness. Yet it’s then that we begin to experience more joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfillment than we ever thought possible, completely independent of our possessions, circumstances, or relationships.
Our desire and hope for this Advent and Christmas season is that you and your family (and all of us!) will come to understand that mystery in a new way. That, in seeking to remove distractions, combat consumerism, slow down, rest in the hope of Christ, and reimagine contentment, you will each know the “fullness of joy” found in God’s presence.
Of course, simply reading these devotionals, having a few family discussions, and doing the Saturday experiences is just a step. Learning to find our satisfaction in Jesus is a lifelong pursuit, and Christmas is a wonderful time to begin or begin anew. Kids won’t magically stop wanting the latest iPhone or video game or whatever it might be (and it’s not wrong if they do want things!), nor will any of us become like Christ overnight. But we can take this season to pause, reflect, ask good questions, and reorient our perspectives and hearts.
As soon as you’re able, discuss the following with your family:
- What do you think it means to have “abundant life”?
- Is it possible that what we think would make life abundant might not actually?
- How do you think joy and abundant life are related to each other?