When you drive a maroon Toyota Sienna, you see maroon Toyota Siennas. It's as if there are no other models on the road - they’re everywhere!
The past few weeks, a theme has caught my eye everywhere I gaze: podcasts, songs, books, Scripture, tweets.
What is that theme? Generally speaking: materialism, consumerism, earthly treasures, the dangers of greed and the Christian's responsibility and privilege of caring for the poor and vulnerable.
An overlooked literary piece on this subject is Jonathan Edward's The Duty of Charity to the Poor. It is a powerful, thorough exposition of the Christian foundations for sharing bountifully with those who are materially poor. His words stung my stingy heart and he has laid out a noteworthy prophetic word for today's western church which finds itself in an increasingly materialistic landscape with a large chasm between the wealthy and the poor, the safe and the vulnerable.
This morning, as I opened to Psalm 71, I read about the character of a wise and just king. Solomon or David did not manifest these qualities to the fullest, but Jesus has and does! What does the psalm invoke most clearly? That a good king is one who cares for the poor and needy. And as sons and daughters of this King, we are called to display the goodness of his kingdom. Or take Psalm 68 from earlier this week which tells me that our God is Father to the fatherless and a protector of widows.
What about me? Do generosity and compassion for the materially poor and vulnerable characterize my life? Am I more focused on laying up treasures on earth than with caring for the stranger, the sick, the naked, the homeless (Matt. 25)? Am I simply a product of my age – one who is defined as a sum of my consumer choices rather than by the weak and oppressed ones whom I love and serve?
To come back to the title of this post: Do I live as if I truly believe I have enough in Christ, so much in fact that I have a joyful, bountiful spirit of abundance toward others? Where does that bountiful heart come from? Only from a meditation upon the radical gospel of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of his Holy Spirit who empowers the sons and daughters of the King to carry other's burdens thus "fulfilling the law of Christ." (Gal. 6) The first disciples of Jesus Christ "had all things in common" (Acts 2:42) and Paul advocated that no one would have too much, but rather equity out to prevail in the church (2 Corinthians 8).
There’s a beautiful piece composed by Bach titled Ich habe genug which he wrote based upon the words from Luke’s gospel when Simeon held the Christ child in his arms and declared “I have enough.” That sentiment sums up the Christian’s faith, does it not? I have enough in Christ. I am satisfied in Him. He is my living water, my bread from heaven, my breath, my redemption, my resurrection, my hope, my joy.
Do I live with this “I have enough” spirit, or am I too easily turned to the Siren’s call of possessions, comfort, prestige and power?
Take care, Jesus says. Take care and be on guard against every form of greed, for man’s life does not consistent in the abundance of his possessions. How tragic to be rich in the world and yet fail to be rich in God, Jesus warns. (Luke 12)
What good does it do a man to gain the world and yet forfeit his very soul? (Luke 9)
How do we begin to spin a tapestry of generosity toward the poor and oppressed? By his grace alone. One day at a time. By prayer and trust in God's sovereign care over us. Looking for opportunities to practice generosity. Whether with my time as my two daughters ask for it. Or with my neighbor who is feeling chatty. Or with the stranger on the sidewalk asking for help. Or with the immigrant at the post office in need of assistance. Or with the refugees abroad trapped in dehumanizing camps.
I have enough!