John 3:13-17 CEB
The last half of the 60's, specifically 1969 was a game changer for American culture:
We were still being rocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968. The Vietnam War was fubared on an epic scale. PBS (Public Broadcasting Network) began , which included Sesame Street in their lineup. Woodstock happened. The ATM and the Boeing 747 made their debut. Space truly became the final frontier.
What I want to focus on is space. For the first time ever we saw an image of the earth, a big blue ball hanging in the immense black space. The term, Spaceship Earth, was coined. We began to see how the Earth was a limited resource. There were no planets we could easily jump to, to reap the resources. It was us, and only us. This image was brought to my attention by Rev. Dr. Dick Hamm, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ.) He was trying to show how the huge changes that happened around the year 1969, and a few years before, brought a paradigm shift that also changed Christianity, (even if Christianity still isn't on board.) His conversation went to the green movement. My mind realized how diametrically opposed this relatively new concept was to Christianity. The secular world teaches us to focus on scarcity over abundance. Christianity teaches us abundance over scarcity.
Now don't get me wrong, Americans really should practice using their resources more frugally. I can remember during the Atlanta drought we had to conserve all the water we used inside and outside the house. There were little things we could do: turn off the faucet while brushing our teeth. Don't water the lawn during the hottest hours. Eventually not watering our lawn at all. Take showers instead of baths and take shorter showers when we do. Many of these things I already did. I have always been good about turning off the lights in the rooms I am not using and turning off the faucet, even for seconds, if it saved water. To be honest, most of my reasoning was to cut the electric and water bill down. I wanted to save money. Yet, during the drought it baffled and confused me when someone shared, how they went to Florida and just turned on the faucet just because they could. They let the water run for minutes for no reason. I was speechless. During the drought I thought about how fortunate I was I still had the water to use. In other parts of the world, when a community has a drought people die of thirst. I thought others would see how fortunate they were even when people had to cut back on their excess a little. Instead, they wanted the ability to use their excess again. I was wrong.
But I keep this in conversation with my Christian beliefs. Most importantly I think of the parable of the talents. A rich ruler, leaving town, decides to leave his riches in the hands of his servants. Three servants; acting in two different ways. Two of the servants come from an abundant theology. They invest the money and make even more to give to the rich man upon his return. The final one comes from a scarcity theology, the money was a limited resource. He could lose it, so the man buries it. It gains nothing. In the end, the servants who rightfully invested the money to make more were rewarded. The third servant was punished.
Scarcity believes there isn't enough.
Those who act out of scarcity are bitter, resentful, and/or scared when someone else gains. Scarcity means there isn't enough. Scarcity believes you can't celebrate when someone else in your field gets the attention and praise because your field is a limited resource only few can achieve. Scarcity causes us to stockpile what we have instead of using it. Now I'm not discounting the idea of saving for a rainy day. I'm not raising up the grasshopper over the ant. Saving our abundance for famine is biblical. Remember Joseph and the Pharaoh? There were seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. It was because the people were called to save they survived the famine. Saving is different from scarcity theology. Scarcity theology draws us in and separates us from our neighbor. When we come from a place of scarcity our friends become enemies. It slowly destroys us from the inside out. I think of all those dying churches out there and see how they are coming from a place of scarcity.
Abundance believes there is enough.
Those who act out of abundance celebrates when others obtain and achieve. There is something joyous when someone else makes it, and when someone is struggling, abundance urges us to help them out. If we come to a place of abundance we begin to realize our enemy isn't really our enemy at all. Abundance makes us want to share.
Love can only come from an abundance theology. There is no way to relate to our neighbor in a healthy way unless we are willing to share and celebrate with them. So here is the two story billboard warning flashing in your face: It is difficult to live in a world of limited resources and act abundantly, but that is what Christ calls us to do.
Christ enters into the conversation and makes us rethink.
I think an individual human life is the most limited resource out there. That person has one life, one chance to get it right. When that person is gone there will never be that person ever again. Jesus, in a scandalous act of love, willingly sacrifices his precious limited resource, his life, for the sake of all. He wanted us to act abundantly towards one another and he was going to be the ultimate example. Out of our fear of scarcity we took his life, and out of his abundance he gave it.
It really makes everything else seem petty. When Christ was willing to die to fulfill the point, why are we anxious and worried when God might be calling us to celebrate someone else's victory, or help someone else out? Live in that scandalous love that turns your enemies into your friends, reconnecting the Body of Christ. Don't stay and keep; go and do!
Like what you are reading? Join the conversation on Reddit! http://www.reddit.com/r/FigTreeChristian/ . There you can also share blogs and articles that extend the discussion, or just add to the discussion on this meditation. Either way, look forward to seeing you there!
Also, if you are in the Atlanta area consider coming to the planning on Sunday, October 6th . For more information check out Upcoming Events!