"Abundant Life" as we've been taught it, by the modern Church, is a myth.
If you've ever heard someone say "God has blessed me with a new _____! He's given me life more abundantly!" then you've been exposed to the lie. In today's climate of soft theology and relativism, this kind of thinking is rampant, it's destructive, and it's wrong.
I debated on whether to even write this, as it's a hard topic to swallow. Take, for instance, my article on Technology In the Church. I knew as I was writing it that it would ruffle some feathers, because it clearly calls out believers to put their money where they claim their faith is. That makes people uncomfortable. But I'm okay with making people uncomfortable.
The Christian life is not about human comfort. If it were, we could discard the entire book of Job. Or Acts. Or the Gospels. Or pretty much the whole Bible. In the book of Job, the Bible says Job was righteous in every way, and yet God allowed him to be afflicted. All throughout the Bible, there are stories of righteous people suffering and enduring hardship. The thorn in Paul's side. Lazarus' death. Job. King David. The disciples. Even Jesus himself.
If God were in fact trying to make everyone comfortable, then what would the point of that be? We know God doesn't change. We know God allows suffering in righteous people. Therefore, it is wrong for us to assume God wants us to be comfortable. Comfort does not honor God. He allows us to be comfortable, in the same way he allows us to endure suffering. To God, it's just a part of life, not the goal in and of itself. It's not a reward for being "good enough."
"But doesn't God want me to be happy?"
Yes, but you're assuming your definition of "happy" is the same as God's. Chances are it probably isn't. This isn't a new problem, by any means. People have been assuming what God meant since Adam and Eve. It hasn't turned out well, generally speaking.
"But what about Jesus' promises of abundant life? Don't I have that?"
That depends on what your use of the word "abundant" is. This is why I have so many issues with the Prosperity Gospel. It's not Biblical. What Jesus actually says in John 10:10 is this:
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. - NIV
Your translation of this passage may say it as "have life, and have it abundantly" or maybe "to give life in all its fullness."
The idea is that Jesus gives life abundantly. The emphasis is on give and have, making abundantly an adverb. Abundantly does not refer to "life" and is not an adjective! When we as believers say "abundant life" we mean the amount and magnitude of life, not the quality of material abundance in that life. You can't get much more abundant than eternal life.
In fact, Jesus preached against excess material wealth on many occasions. So which of his teachings do you think is wrong? The logical answer is: none of them are wrong, you've just interpreted one (or some) of them incorrectly.
"Oh, but those were just object lessons... Jesus wouldn't really want me to sell everything and give it to the poor."
Really? Have you asked Him? He might, it's possible. Would you, if He told you to?
The problem I have with churches (and people) spending extravagant amounts of money on things like technology, buildings, and decorations is that in and of themselves, these things do nothing to advance the Kingdom of God. Without a proper spiritual platform, they are simply a clanging of cymbals, noise in the wind. God is not impressed by the size of your congregation or sanctuary if you are not passionate about the poor and the lost.
Without a heart for people, none of the rest of it matters.
If you can honestly say your church body is doing everything in their power to reach people for the Kingdom of God and Make Disciples, then I don't care what you do with your money, because I know it's going to be used for the proper reasons.
If you feel the need to justify things, maybe it's time to take a long hard look at what you're trying to accomplish, and what Abundant Life really is about.
If you have Jesus, you already have Abundant Life.
Jesus came so we could more abundantly Have Life. Not so we could have a comfortable, cushy, convenient life. Saying the two are the same is like slapping Jesus in the face. Jesus didn't die for expensive cars, Starbucks, or huge cathedrals. He didn't die so you could be comfortable.
He died for you.
When you accept Jesus, you get Jesus. That, in and of itself, is the definition of abundant life.