As I mentioned in the discussion of the goal in Romans 12:2, the life God has for us is not intended to be drudgery but is to be an incredible relationship with him that lasts forever. I believe the key to developing a renewed mind that leads to a transformed life is not a matter of just knowing the right things but instead it is a matter of knowing the right person. It is a matter of relationship. You get to know a person by knowing about them, but you only have a relationship when the knowing-about-a-person becomes knowing-the-person because you’ve committed to the relationship. You take the perspective that the person matters to you enough to cultivate the friendship and adjust your life to his life. You choose to act in certain ways because of the other person.
This is how a life is transformed by a renewed mind. You take the perspective that Jesus matters to you. He matters enough that you cultivate the relationship and adjust your life to his life. You choose to act in certain ways because of him.
Notice that Romans 12:2 says that we can be transformed, not that we can transform ourselves. While the means to our transformation is the renewing of our minds, that renewing is not a matter of some amazing thing we can do for God. Instead, it is a reorientation of our patterns of thought to putting Christ first as we rely on the strength that comes through his Holy Spirit at work in us.
In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life and salvation in terms of a relationship, knowing God. Jesus explains, “This is eternal life, that they know you [God the Father].” If there is not a relationship with God based on faith in Jesus, then there is no life. Indeed, no one comes to God except through knowing Jesus (John 14:6-7). The life that Jesus gives to us is His very life, a relationship between persons that lasts forever (John 10:27-28). There is no end to the life He gives because there is no end to the relationship that begins by faith in Christ. So the life that Jesus came to give is “life to the full” because it is the start of a relationship that will get better and better as we get to know God through Jesus. We find the meaning of life and true significance in life when we put Jesus at the center of our existence. Ephesians 3:18-19 says that as we get to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that is, as we comprehend and encounter his love for us in our relationship with him, then we are filled to the measure of the fullness of God. In other words, knowing Jesus and being loved by him is what it means to live abundantly. Life to the full is life in relationship with Jesus.
Conclusion: On Track to an Abundant Life
What can we do to be on track or to get back on track to an abundant life? Here are four suggestions for developing an abundant life of knowing Jesus. First, don’t forget that we are being transformed (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). God is at work in us and his Holy Spirit can strengthen us for the abundant life (Eph. 3:16-19). Second, include grace in your perspective. Without God’s grace, living life to the full would be futile. It is only by God’s grace that we can live abundantly (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 12:9-10). Third, keep your life aligned with God’s Spirit by confessing sin (1 John 1:9) and yielding to the Holy Spirit’s control (Gal 5:16; Eph. 5:15-21). An abundant life is not one with yourself in charge. Finally, keep on trusting in Jesus and follow closely after him (John 10:7-18). That is the life worth living that Jesus came to give us.