In John 10:10 Jesus said, “... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

If you’ve listened to TV preachers, you’ve no doubt heard this message before. Many pastors are teaching that when one “becomes a Christian,” God will become their magic genie in the sky.

They teach that health, wealth and human favor are byproducts of God’s favor. They teach that everyone who is sick can be made well if they have enough faith, and that we can have what we desire by speaking things into existence.

They are selling a gospel that promises to make life easy, breezy and beautiful.

In truth, since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I have faced many difficulties. I lost my mother suddenly when I was a teen, and I have faced trials and betrayals that were so difficult I thought they might break me.

I’m a Christian and a pastor, and life has not always been easy. So, has God let me down? Am I just lacking faith?

No, God cannot let me down, and although my faith has been weak at times, the Bible tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed is enough faith to tell a mountain to move from here to there and it will move.

So why don’t God’s magic genie powers work for us?

While God is powerful and answers our prayers, the truth is God has not promised us that the Christian life will always be easy. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

The “gate” is Jesus and “leads to life” is a reference to everlasting life or salvation. Jesus is teaching the way through him is difficult and narrow. It is not the easy way. If you are following Jesus, you will always be swimming upstream.

2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And as if that isn’t enough to make you nervous, 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”

Not only have we chosen the difficult road, we will travel that road with an adversary on our heels who prowls around like a lion seeking to devour us.

So, what do we do with John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”?

We cannot define that abundant life from a carnal or material perspective. God is a Spirit. His thoughts are not confined to the material or fleshly.

When God promises you an abundant life, he fulfills his promise by filling you with God’s Spirit and producing fruits of righteousness in our hearts where once there was only dead and rotting fruit.

He produces the fruits of his Spirit: love, joy peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The abundant life comes from the fruits of God’s Spirit being worked in and through us filling us with love, joy, kindness, gentleness and so many wonderful attributes of God that we struggle to manifest on our own.

It comes from the peace we find in placing our cares on him, knowing that he promises to work all things together for our good.

Today’s Insights was written by Kevin Hester, pastor at The Shore Church in St. Joseph. Insights is written by area clergy to give different viewpoints on a variety of topics. It is published each Saturday in cooperation with the Berrien County Association of Churches. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of member churches.