Posted by Mark Beckwith on August 10, 2011
The stock market is in free fall. The economy is a mess. The only certainty that public officials are able to muster is the insistence that it all is someone else's fault -- which are hollow accusations at best, and display verbal violence at worst. And what has been stirred up is a cauldron of fear -- with scarcity as its main ingredient. And the scarcity is real. Unemployment is up, a credit rating is down. Assets are shrinking, along with collective confidence. With the growing fear, there is a tendency to hoard -- or to hide. The scarcity is real. But so is the abundance. You just have to dig down a bit harder to find it; and a bit further to trust it. Jesus was no stranger to scarcity. In the economic system of his day, Jesus and his fellow Jews were no more than sharecroppers to Roman overlords. They had few rights, and fewer freedoms. Talk about scarcity. And yet Jesus preached abundance. Over and over again. About mustard seeds, pearls of great price and demonstrating how a few table scraps can feed 5,000 people. He was not a first century Pollyanna, nor was he offering some sort of economic panacea. He was pointing people to another, more abundant reality than the scarce circumstances that surrounded them. It required -- and requires, faith to see the abundance. Faith requires our participation. Belief refers to something that we think. Faith takes us beyond belief; faith is something we live into. Faith leads us to hope -- and hope can trump fear. It is often said that we need to think our way into a new manner of living. From a faith perspective, we live into a new way of thinking. I have a friend who tells me that whenever she feels the strains of scarcity she gives some money away. The more the fear, the more she gives. Hers is an act of faith. And she says it works. It may not move mountains, nor solve her economic problems. But it does point her back into the direction of God's freeing and life-giving abundance. And away from the culture's menacing mantra of scarcity.