What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “eternal life”? Probably heaven right? Life after death.
But that’s not the only way that Jesus talked about the new life that we can have in him. In John 10:10 he would go on to say that he came that people would have “life to the full.” I don’t think the English word “full” gives us enough of an idea of what Jesus meant there. Other translations use the word “abundance,” which is better. The word Jesus uses even goes beyond the idea of abundance. This new creation that we become, this new identity, this new life in Christ is defined this way:
“Pertaining to a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate—‘that which is more than, or more than enough, beyond the norm, abundantly, superfluous.”
In Christ we have more than enough. We can so identify with Christ that we will find that we have more than enough. This goes to how we acknowledge, our identity.
So often we wrestle with a sense of longing, of emptiness, or of wanting something more out of life. We can seek to fill that emptiness with all sorts of pleasures or escapes or purchases or addictions. Those things do fill the void, but only temporarily. They can distract us from the void, but only temporarily. We are left with an incessant craving for more and more to fill the emptiness.
There is nothing that can truly fill the void, except Jesus. When we acknowledge our identity in him we have more than enough.
What we need to do then is to fully acknowledge and understand our identity in him.
I’ve noticed this in the role of pastor, and increasingly so as the years go by. You get to be known as “the pastor” or “a pastor”, and more and more that becomes not only your reputation, but also how you see yourself, how you think. The ramifications of your role start to impact your decisions.
Maybe you have an identity like that. Teacher, nurse, the numbers guy, the sports guy, grandma, hunter, the scientist, the cleaner…what are the various ways you identify yourself? It could be negative too. The can’t-keep-a-job guy. The moral failure. The relationship screw-up. The doubter. The depressed one. The anxious one.
There are so many ways we identify ourselves, but as Christians we need to acknowledge ourselves connected to Jesus. We are in Christ. Let us so deeply see and understand our lives as wrapped up in his that it affects how we think about ourselves and thus everything we do. Everything I do is affected by the fact that I am a pastor. When you are a mother or father, it is the same. When you are a grandparent, or no matter who or what you are, it is the same. Your identity leads to choices and actions.
Let us instead deeply acknowledge our identity with Jesus. As we saw last week, we need to acknowledge the truth and live in the truth that when we believe in Jesus as our Lord then we are a child of God. It is our identity! What we see this week is that we are in Christ.
Paul would specify this when he said that we are members of the body of Christ, which we see in 1 Corinthians 12. If you open your Bible to that chapter, you’ll see in the first few verses Paul talking about spiritual gifts given to us by the Spirit. Jump ahead to verses 12-13. There Paul says that we are all baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. As he continues through verse 26, his point is that though each of has different gifts, and thus different roles in the body of Christ, like a hand or foot or eye in a human body has different roles, each one is equally important. So he concludes in verse 27 that we are all part of the body of Christ.
What is the important lesson that we learn from this? Our being in Christ is not an isolated or individual thing! We are in Christ together with one another. Being in Christ means that we must pursue unity with one another. That’s why Paul continues his flow of thought into 1st Corinthians chapter 13 saying that while there are different gifts and roles in the body of Christ, they all must submit to the most excellent gift of love.
In Christ, we love one another. That is another vital part of our identity. A family, with Jesus as our head, who love one another.
As disciples of Jesus, then, we are learners, we are his apprentices, followers, learning from him how to live. And one of the primary things he said to his disciples was “Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
All of this should affect how we see ourselves. We are in Christ. “Christian” is not just a label. Or it should not just be a label. In Christ we surrender to Jesus’ way, and allow him to be more and more influential over our lives, over our choices, for our good. In Christ, his abundant life can become our life.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 598–599.
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