abundance

In this morning’s “God Pause,” Luther Seminary alum, Brent Campbell invites us to rethink our understanding of what God is capable of:

This week’s Old Testament reading is a short and sweet story. It was a time of famine in the Northern Kingdom. One faithful man (from Baal Shalishah) brings his “first fruits” offering of 12 small loaves of bread and some ears of corn. A confident prophet (Elisha) instructs his servant to distribute this food to 100 people.

The skeptical servant replies, “How can I set this before 100 men?” He is a great example of a theology of scarcity. In our congregations, during difficult economic times, we ask, “How can we afford to start a new ministry?” or “how can we do this or that with the limited resources we have?” We ask on an individual level, “How can I ever get through this loss? How will I ever recover from this problem?”

Elisha confronted the attitude of scarcity by trusting God to provide even in adverse times. And, of course, God did not disappoint!

Obviously, the Gospel lesson is pointing in the same direction with the feeding of the 5000, but what really struck me this morning (as it does just about every time I read it), is the closing line of the lesson from Ephesians.  The NSRV, which we read on Sunday morning, is a pretty weak translation of this passage, so instead this morning, I give you Ephesians 3:20-21 from Morning Prayer Rite II in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.

Even believing that God is a God of Abundance is subscribing to a theology of scarcity.  Instead, we are called into service by the God of Infinite Possibility and Resource.  God doesn’t merely offer us abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, but infinitely more.  It is time that we rethink our theology of stewardship.  Instead of subscribing to scarcity or even abundance, let’s subscribe to a theology of infinity.  It is, after all, what God offers us in grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness.

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