In the previous post, we read God’s description of human flourishing in Ezekiel 34. Some might say, “But wasn’t that a promise to the people of Israel?” Yes…and no. A case could be made that what God is saying is applicable to all people. But what about Christians? Doesn’t the New Testament only talk about human flourishing in heaven, where true followers of Jesus go after death? Does Jesus say anything about human flourishing during our lives on earth?
In John 10:10 Jesus remarks, “I have come that they might have life and life abundantly.” Jesus here indicates that one of his missional goals was that humanity would be able to experience abundant life. In teaching abundant life, Jesus is not talking about life after death. He does talk about life after death in other places, particularly when he uses the phrase “eternal life.” Abundant life, however, is the kind of life that Jesus desires people to experience in the here and now. The word the author of this passage, John, used, in the ancient Greek he originally wrote in is defined as “pertaining to a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate—‘that which is more than, more than enough, beyond the norm, abundantly, superfluous’.” While this concept could be applied to physical abundance, the kind of life Jesus desires is not an outward abundance of things, but it is a deeper, more meaningful inward abundance. What an amazing picture of flourishing in the here and now!
As we conclude this five-part series on Ezekiel 34, we need to return to the first post in which we asked, “Does God keep his promises?” It depends what promises you think God has made to us. For example, God has not promised us an easy life. If you think human flourishing and the abundant life means an easy, comfortable, entertaining life full of great health, wonderful relationships, and lots of money and possessions, then God will not keep that promise. Because he never made that promise.
He promises instead a flourishing, abundant life in his Kingdom. We usher in that Kingdom when we have spiritual conversations with people to help them become disciples of Jesus, when we root out and eradicate injustice, when we trust in God, not in a human king or government. We live the flourishing, abundant life when we grow our relationship with the Spirit who lives with us. Think about how the Spirit brings flourishing, God with us, guiding us, comforting us in the middle of pain, never leaving or forsaking us.
So look back, evaluate how you understand the promises of God. See if you are labeling things as promises that are potentially your desires for an easy or pain-free life. Then turn to God. Make him your Shepherd, your true King. Spend time with him. Get to know him. Allow him and his Kingdom to saturate your life. Then in time, perhaps gradually, you will experience more and more of the flourishing abundant life Jesus promised. And he will keep that promise!