Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Arrogance of Abundance

Preachers are an arrogant lot. {About 400 sermons give me the right to say that just in case you're wondering.} They (we) get some small idea in our heads and suddenly it becomes a theme. The excitement builds and suddenly you have a series. Then a study!! It becomes a thing that is assumed as "true" so that it can be taught, debated, reasoned and discussed – with the goal of having everyone believe.

And then something or someone comes along and asks one small question that causes the carefully crafted pyramid to come crashing down.

I've struggled with it all week.

Countless times I've preached on the theology of abundance. I've written about it. I've believed it. {God is bigger than our needs. A loving God provides all we need. We get stuck in our own wanting – more, more, more. It leads us to think that we don't have enough.}

And then Oliver brought on the reality. What happens when sometimes there simply is not enough?

December brought Christmas. And then it brought an unexpected car repair of $400. And Oliver's first surgery which clocked in at just over $350. And then his second surgery at almost $200. And something has to give.

Suddenly my own words came back to haunt me. {written here}

"What if there's not enough?"
"What about me/mine/ours?"
Clutching. Fearful. Ruthless.
Stingy. Grabby. Controlling.

A theology of abundance
locked in a struggle with
the myth of scarcity.

Where do I choose to live?
I must choose to believe that
the power of future
is carefully
attended to
and cherished
by the hands of those
who trust abundance.

Which is right? Did I simply not believe enough and now my house payment may be late next month? Am I fearful, grabby, ruthless and controlling for taking care of the immediate needs of those I love and I am responsible for? Do I allow my dog to suffer and simply wait for something to happen to prove that God will take care of my needs? Or do I cut back on groceries and worry just a little bit as I wait for the next paycheck to come?

Taken to a higher level, what does the theology of abundance really mean to someone who is hungry? To someone who is homeless? To a mother who has to choose between milk and medicine?

The only time any preacher I know has ever gone hungry is when he skipped lunch. That mostly goes for me as well. But as times continue to get harder and harder for many folks, I wonder about how to keep an attitude of enough alive in my heart. And I think about what it must feel like to know real scarcity.

And I contemplate the arrogance of preaching.

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