a·bun·dance/əˈbəndəns/: an ample quantity; affluence, wealth; relative degree of plentiness.
Anyone who has experienced third-world poverty can relate to an unfading, tugging awareness of that world which exists outside of our American land of plenty. Those who whine that overseas missions are wasteful have not experienced this indescribable sensation, which pulls upon the heart of the missionary, constantly interrupting a lifestyle of privilege. The truth is that one can not simply “un-know” the reality of suffering across the globe once their eyes have met it. Once we know, it never leaves us, and we will never be at peace sitting back, refusing to fight for them; the knowingness tugs (this dose of perspective is a part of what makes missions so powerful).
A few weeks ago, I got to travel to Florida with some friends. My mind free of stress and heart open to listen, I prayed that God would simply show me something, whatever it was that my heart needed. Late in the week, we took a boat tour through Fort Lauderdale, where we saw the “Millionaire’s Row”, a stretch of land lining the water, made up of countless mansions and mega-yachts. Although I at first looked longingly at the perfectly manicured properties, with their infinity pools and impressive layouts, my admiration was halted by a voice of reason deriving from what I had seen just months before in Mexico.
After being sickened by the sight of immense poverty, he broke my heart all the more for those bathing in immense riches. The home that we built in Puerto Peñasco, in which a family of four will settle comfortably for the rest of their lives, costs less than the monthly maintenance of one of these lawns. To the owner of the 40 million dollar mansion (and his yacht that requires $30,000 a week to park), how much is enough?….
But do I really have to own a multi-million dollar home to lead a life that values physical wealth over spiritual wealth? What about the expensive prom dress, constant to-buy lists, and other continuous indulgences that I so quickly justify? What does abundance entail for me?
To redefine abundance by biblical terms: In Christ, there is no plenty. We’re no longer chasing after an unattainable goal of riches, but found within a never-ending flow of life. Jesus came so that we may be saved, that we may have life and have it to the full. (see John 10:1-21) The spirit of Christ is inside of us so that we can live with purpose, fully alive and carrying out the will of God with whatever unique tools he blessed us with.
Ephesians 2:1-10 // As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God made you uniquely YOU. We who were once dead in sin are made alive. Verse 10 wraps up our calling; he didn’t create us to blindly pursue the world-which leads to death-but to unswervingly pursue Jesus Christ, life himself. When you walk in alignment with his hand, making art with your existence, you will be filled. The devil is threatened by someone who knows who they are and who pursues what makes them come alive.
“There isn’t one right way to do the job of glorifying God. There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in us and spills out of us into the world.” -Emily P. Freeman
I tend to put my passions in a box, using them for my own entertainment and glory. But wasn’t God’s intention in granting each of them to me that I go out and use them to shout his name? “As long as there are people on earth, the world will have glimpses of God.” He is made visible through what his people do, and therefore the most tangible way to experience the fullness of God is by the display of his love. Jesus came to earth, fully human and fully divine, and lived in a way that we can relate to. In his perfection, he served and loved and made art with his life as the Messiah.
His followers can also live in fullness because of his life, which was the direct path to his death on a cross but spoke love like nothing and no one ever had before. The one who provided an abundance of food from five loaves and two fish offers abundant life today. He can take me as I am, when I feel that I am hardly enough, and use me to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world.
“In the end, God will come to fix his world and make it altogether good again.
In between, his children are to go into the world and create some imperfect models of the good world to come.” -Lewis Smedes
Be a glimpse of heaven today, engaging the world around you in the hope that you profess, clinging to the very source of life.
Little is more deeply inspiring than a person who always offers everything that they have, wherever they are. Whether making lattes or preaching in front of thousands, those who have truly experienced the power of the gospel breathe life into others by working in all things for the glory of the Lord. (see Colossians 3:23) And it’s a beautiful thing to see.
Lord, wherever I am, may I be all there, fully present among those within AND outside of the community of faith.
I contrasted third-world poverty with the outrageousness of American mansions in order to illustrate that pursuit of earthly pleasures is crippling, chasing after the wind. Much more of our life should be offered to the broken. Don’t be deceived; this wealth will never fill us, even if it may temporarily quench. Well, even the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever! (Isaiah 40:8) I will praise the giver rather than the gifts, and fix my eyes upward as I make art with my life.
a·bun·dance/əˈbəndəns/: life spirit-filled to the brim; fulfilling the creator’s purpose, contentment whether in plenty or want.