In Luke chapter 21 Jesus is talking about how His followers will be hated and put in prison and even killed, “but not a hair on your head will be harmed.”
Jesus says that if we follow Him we:
Will experience an abundant life
Will have joy
Will not have to worry about having our basic needs met.
Hmm, jail and death on this hand and an abundant life on that hand. Since Jesus’ followers both then and down through the ages have suffered persecution and martyrdom and all the hardships of a normal life on earth, just what kind of abundant life was He talking about?
Or, is the abundant life a natural outflow of experiencing persecution? Well, ask an atheist and s/he’d probably say that life is LESS abundant because of persecution. So would most other people. In their ignorance, atheists would call this a Biblical contradiction. Only ignorance could make such a statement. So what gives?
The abundant life about which Jesus speaks is so other-worldly, so counterintuitive that the secular world cannot possibly understand. Dawkins in particular finds it “incomprehensible” that Christians who suffer often wind up more dedicated to God than less.
The fact is, the abundant life is a gift from above. We do not get it by striving or following ritual. Just as a child who is being born has played no role in h/his conception, growth and birth, so too being “born from above,” is beyond our effort. Being “born again” brings us into a very different existence. It gives us a literal connection with another dimension whereby the things that harm “those who live on the earth” do not have the power to destroy those who belong to the kingdom of God.
Those who live on the earth believe that life can be discovered only by examining physical evidence and combining that with reason. Gaining an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus ushers us into a different kingdom, one that exists just beyond our senses. It is received, not attained. It is supernatural, not material.
The abundance that Jesus offers is a spiritual abundance that transcends life’s circumstances. It is not dependent on wealth or health or beauty or power or relationships. The abundant life is eternal and spiritual. Because my life is in Jesus, “You can kill me but I will not die”