The story is told of an artist who sculpted a beautiful angel and wanted the master artist, Michelangelo, to inspect it and offer his opinion. So Michelangelo was called in. The master artist carefully looked at the sculpture from every angle.
Finally, he said, "Well, it lacks only one thing." Then he turned around and walked out.
The artist didn't know what it lacked, and he was embarrassed to go and ask Michelangelo. So he sent a friend to Michelangelo's studio to try and find out what his statue lacked.
The great artist replied, "It lacks only life."
The same could be said of a lot of people today. They have the house, the car, the spouse, and the kids. They have the career. They have money in the bank. They have everything going the way that things ought to go to supposedly live life to its fullest. But there is that is something still lacking. They are still lacking life.
Jesus has something to say about that, and in John's Gospel, He tells us what our lives ought to be about: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10 NKJV). Jesus was contrasting what He offers with what the devil offers. The thief mentioned here speaks of the enemy of our soul, Satan. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But Christ has come that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. And there we have a choice.
Campus Crusade for Christ's tract, The Four Spiritual Laws, opens with the statement, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." And that is true. On the other hand, Satan hates you and has a horrible plan for your life. Now, he doesn't really broadcast this, because he doesn't want you to know. But what he ultimately wants to do is steal, kill, and destroy.
In contrast, Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." The context of John 10 is that of a shepherd and his sheep, where Jesus is the Shepherd, while we are the sheep. But we are reminded that Jesus is not just our Shepherd; He is the good shepherd. It is important to know that the word used here for "good" doesn't just mean morally good, though it includes that. It also could be translated "beautiful" or "winsome" or "lovely," even "attractive." Jesus is the beautiful, attractive, winsome Shepherd, and the Shepherd's plan for His flock — more specifically, the Lord's plan for you — is that your life would flourish. It is His absolute joy to bless you.
Sometimes we have a false concept of God in which we see Him as One who is stingy with His blessings. But nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that God wants to bless you even more than you want to be blessed.
The abundant life that John 10:10 speaks of is not necessarily a long life, though it may be, but it certainly is a full one. Medical science seeks to add years to our lives, but only Jesus can add life to our years. Having been both an unbeliever and a believer, having been someone who was under the devil's plan for my life and then discovering the Lord's plan for my life, there is no question that living the life that God wants me to live is the best life.
If somehow the Bible read differently and there was no promise of heaven and no afterlife, if we simply stopped existing when we die, but everything else about the Christian life remained the same, I still would be a Christian on that basis alone. To have Christ in my life, to have His leading, to have His guidance, to have His blessing, to have these standards to live by and to guide my life by...I would be a Christian for these things alone. If neither heaven nor God's plan to live eternally were promised to me, it has been worth it just having the Lord in my life. But the good news, friend, is there is a heaven. There is an afterlife. There is the hope that every Christian has: life — and that more abundantly.
You can receive a copy of I Can Only Imagine. Bart Millard of MercyMe lived a troubled childhood because of an abusive father. But by the power of the gospel, Bart says, “God transformed the monster I hated into the man I wanted to become.” Read the story behind how Bart’s father became a new creation in Christ and the influence it had on the creation of the popular song “I Can Only Imagine.” Get a copy of this compelling memoir in thanks for your generous donation to Harvest Ministries today.