For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Rom. 8:38-39
As those named and claimed in the abundant promises of baptism, we have God's assurances about our beginnings with God and our endings with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus says the Apostle Paul. This truth changes everything in the present. It opens a way to seeing and living that is quite remark-able and most assuredly counter-cultural.
We live in a world where the basic human assumption is one of scarcity, the idea that there are not enough good things to go around. We all succumb to scarcity thinking. It is what motivates us to work like slaves, to get and enjoy as much of the pie as we can, and to hold on to what we have, even if others have to do without.
In our better moments, we recognize that we do not have to be driven by a scarcity mentality, and therefore do not have to be anxious, frantic, or greedy. "Consider the lilies of the field…" says Jesus (Mt.6:28). Because we trust in God's generous, continuous, eternal, and abundant care, we can see that life consists of more than buying and selling, measuring and trading, stockpiling and protecting, and finally sinking down into death and nothingness.
In our best moments, we experience God's unconditional and abundant grace as more than mere words. We receive it as God's gift to us for reordering our relationship with God and our neighbor. In our best moments, grace sparks both gratitude and generosity from deep within.
When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, his answer was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and
[emphasis added] your neighbor as yourself (Mt.22:37, Mk.12:30, Lk.10:27). There is no "God part" of the greatest commandment without the "neighbor part." They were permanently linked together by Jesus. The link that unites them is God's unfailing generosity to us.
Of the greatest commandment, Walter Brueggemann has asked, "What if one of the links between the Creator's generosity and the neighbor's needs is us, this community? … if we believe it is, we can begin life anew as stewards of God's abundance."
As you contemplate your financial stewardship, Kathy and I encourage you to consider how your giving reflects your resistance to the notion of scarcity. We can assure you that growing in generosity naturally and necessarily creates greater faith as giving puts you squarely on that link between the Creator's generosity and the neighbor's need. It puts you on the "and" in the greatest commandment, the place of living in gratitude.
Yours in Christ, Prs. Peter and Kathy
Next Week: Living in Gratitude: Seeking to Commitment