What does it mean to have abundant life?
That’s the preliminary question posed to a small group of us attending a retreat for our Presbytery Vitality Committee tomorrow. It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and I’ve made a bit of a promise to myself to write a few times a week ~ and the topic of abundant life seems a good one with which to start.
When you take a look at dictionary definitions of the word “abundance,” you immediately see a focus on quantity. Abundance means “a great many” or “a large supply” or “a plentiful amount.” At this point in life, however, I am inclined to understand abundance in terms of quality, rather than quantity. When Jesus says “I came that you might have abundant life,” the quote (more or less) on which our discussion question is based, I don’t think he was speaking in terms of numbers of years or quantities of financial wealth.
Three things come to mind when I think of abundant living. Preeminent among them is joy ~ a deep and abiding joy, gladness, gratefulness, in and for life, regardless of one’s circumstances.
The second is care for or service to others. The richest depths of life are mined when we care about others and act for them ~ whether that care and action involves taking a plate of home-baked cookies to a homebound neighbor, or heading to Congress to advocate for legislation, or something in between.
And finally, abundant living is found when our individual gifts are engaged to the fullest. It’s not possible to live abundantly, no matter the size of your stock portfolio, if you are miserable in the work you do, or a poor fit for the environment in which you find yourself.
I am pretty sure that these three things apply to abundant life for an individual or an entity, such as a family or a business . . . or a church. I think I’ll try to follow through on my writing resolution by exploring them one at a time over the next couple of weeks.