Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 103: Abundance Versus Scarcity
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 103: Abundance Versus Scarcity

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Our culture, grounded in individualism and laissez-faire capitalism, teaches that we should regard life as a struggle to obtain scarce resources. Competition for scarce resources often resembles, a zero sum game – every bit more that one person gets is roughly that amount less available to everyone else. There seem to be analogies in nature, where food and other necessities are limited, and animals struggle to survive and reproduce.

Jesus taught that God provides enough for everyone. He said, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24) Was Jesus betraying ignorance of basic biological facts, which should have been obvious to even a casual observer? I don’t think so. What he was trying to show was that God cares for all God’s Creation. Does this mean that everyone has enough? Everyday experience would have taught the disciples that both people and animals sometimes go hungry or even die from deprivation. However, acquisitive mimetic desire encourages us to want as much as possible, particularly scarce things, worsening the scarcity.

I think Jesus was trying to teach what is essential to having loving relationships with each other and with the world at large. Our fear of physical discomfort and death entices us to hoard essential resources. Jesus taught that this is putting our priorities in the wrong place. Jesus said to his disciples, “do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22b-23) Similarly, Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36)

I think that our faith teaches that, while material resources may be limited, God’s love is not. God cares for all creation, though everyday experience tells us that some will suffer deprivation. I think that the faith of Christ (see essay 81) is that, eventually, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) All Creation will one day be reconciled and restored to a perfectly harmonious existence as existed in Eden (Isaiah 11:6-9).

The worldview of love sees abundance in Creation. Love engenders trust and sharing, and Jesus taught that sharing helps everyone meet their most essential needs, just as there was miraculously enough to feed the 5000 after a “lad” came forward to share his food (John 6:9).

Other passages take up this theme. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Then, Jesus told the parable of the Rich Fool, who hoarded possessions. God, who said that these possessions are temporary and unfulfilling, rebuked the man (Luke 12:16-21). The Hebrew Scriptures also express this wisdom. For example, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (55:2)

God is the source of life, which God provides abundantly. However, human acquisitive mimetic desire often frustrates God’s desires. Because humans want to have more than their neighbors, everyone seeks the same things, which generates scarcities. The way of love sees abundance in the world and encourages sharing. This is the way that Jesus taught, and he said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) This image of God is one who celebrates life, not death. To commune with such a God does not require or even desire blood sacrifices. It is sufficient to pray earnestly and to follow Jesus, who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the light” (John 14:6).

Go on to: Part 104: Abundance Versus Scarcity: The Miracle of Feeding the 5000
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