The Abundant Life versus the Exaggerated Life
Who does not want a fulfilled life, a life that matters?
‘To abound’ means ‘to overflow’, ‘to increase’, ‘to add’ and ‘to enlarge’. Abundance has a verb written all over it. For me, it implies an unstoppable flow, a source that just keeps on giving. But there was a time when abundance did not mean anything to me. I grew up knowing the lack and scarcity of communism. I don’t remember having opportunities to use the word ‘Abundance’ in my native tongue so I actually had to look it up in a dictionary recently. With food rations, gray surroundings and queueing for everything, abundance did not easily roll off the tongue. It sounded strange, unfamiliar, out of context.
“I grew up knowing the lack and scarcity of communism. I don’t remember having opportunities to use the word ‘Abundance’ in my native tongue…”
Now, I am in search of what abundance really means and in my search, I have encountered a word that often competes and masquerades as abundance: exaggeration. People exaggerate their achievements, they embellish their status and popularity, they enlarge their importance, and yes, even they even exaggerate their spiritual life. We are surrounded by embellished images that alter our perception of reality, of real life.
The exaggerated life is sold mainly through the media, but can also be seen in Christian events and conferences. And because the exaggerated life is unreal, longing for it and not being able to achieve it leads us to discontentment. It makes us addicted consumers of products, ideas, remedies, therapies, retreats. Someone said recently, “Consumerism is not about buying; it is about shopping.” How true. It is a constant restlessness to own more.
The latest fashion of today becomes tomorrow’s charity shop donation; today’s ground breaking idea tomorrow’s narrow-minded view.
In contrast, Jesus sets the availability of abundant life at the centre of his message: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV
“The latest fashion of today becomes tomorrow’s charity shop donation; today’s ground breaking idea tomorrow’s narrow-minded view.”
In English, we only have one word to describe life, but the New Testament describes it four different ways:
Bios refers to the life in the physical body, this life that is attracted to exaggeration since it busies itself with the cares of the world.
Luke 8:14 “…these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life (bios), and bring no fruit…”
Psuche from which we get the word psychology, is a life of our emotions, mind, and will. Here also we are tempted to extremes of exaggeration. This is the life we are called to lay down, for Psuche from which we get the word psychology, is a life of our emotions, mind, and will. Here also we are tempted to extremes of exaggeration. This is the life we are called to lay down, for we simply cannot help ourselves.
Matt. 16:25: “For whoever wants to save his life (psuche) shall lose it.”
Anastrophe refers to our way of life, our behaviour and conduct.
1 Timothy 4:12 “… set an example for the believers in speech, in life (anastrophe), in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Zoe is the uncreated, unceasing life of God which is available to us.
John 1:4: “In Him was life (Zoe), and the life (Zoe) was the light of men.”
Here the Greek word refers to the eternal life of God, the divine life uniquely possessed by God. Strong’s concordance says that the zoe-life is “the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed.”
Wow! I want this zoe-life! The ‘Zoe’ kind of life is not static though, it overflows to the bios and psuche. It washes over, it melts away it cleanses and heals if we let it, it also finds its way to Anastrophe-life, and changes our outward behaviour. Like the water finding its way through every crevice and broken surfaces of our humanity with the force and persistence of the might waterfalls it dances in eternal abundance.
Joanna E Williamson is a Renovaré Britain & Ireland Board Member and founder of SheLives, a ministry for women in leadership and a director of One Rock International. She is passionate about mentoring, spiritual formation, and people development.