The “thriving” life sounds a lot like abundant life, doesn’t it? That is the life God intends for all of us.
Let’s be clear. We do not think that means everyone’s life will look the same or that we all will be wealthy. Or healthy. Or even wise. Much like a game – whether it be board games, cards, video games, or sports – there may be different routes to victory, but there is still a clear vision for victory at the end.
For the Jesus follower, this is the abundant life, a thriving life. But the thriving life from God’s perspective is not a matter of accumulating a big house or investment portfolio. It is about being transformed from someone who is born separated from God to someone who looks more and more like Jesus each and every day. Here’s how one of the biblical authors, Paul, puts it:
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
When we read the gospels – the biblical accounts of Jesus’ life – this idea of transformation is captured by terms like “discipleship” or “following Jesus.” Two thousand years ago, Jesus gathered an eclectic group of Jewish men and took them on a journey, a spiritual journey, that touched every aspect of their lives. They learned to put Christ as the central influence in their lives, to follow Him. They became disciples. It was a three year process during which they experienced the ups and downs of being born separated from God, but, by God’s grace, they grew to look more and more like Jesus – and nobody reveals God’s abundant life more than Jesus.
Make no mistake. This transformation was a journey. It did not happen overnight. And it was not necessarily linear. But they continued to move from being faces in the crowd to people sent to the ends of the earth to point people to the hope of a thriving life Jesus offers.
We believe God has a process He leads us through as we grow to look more and more like Jesus in our lives, too. During this all-church focus, we are going to walk through these stages of growth as we progress through the Gospel of John in our Bibles.
The Gospel of John is full of stories in which Jesus encounters the nameless crowds, the curious seeker, the cautiously convinced believer, the committed follower, and then commissions His disciples to help others follow Him.
This Jesus movement did not stay the secret knowledge of twelve Jewish men. It spread. This thriving life that Jesus offered was infectious. It spoke to men and women all throughout Israel – and then it exploded into a worldwide movement. And it is more global today than ever!