Contentment Series: The Source of Abundance (Part 3)
The blue, dark ocean planet hurled through space, empty and void. No life, only chaos. No fish, no trees, no earth, no animals, no people. But God had a plan for this empty planet. So his Spirit hovered. It was a moment of tension before the nothingness passed away forever, swallowed completely by fullness and teeming life.
God spoke, and it was.
God (himself spirit) spoke (i.e. utilized physical sound waves) and it (physical matter) was (newly fashioned physical reality).
From the spiritual came the physical.
From the Divine Spirit himself was fashioned dry land, sky (air and wind and clouds and rain), animals, fish, trees, birds, and of course, humans themselves. Every single resource that humanity would cultivate, craft, and employ for any kind of asset was formed in this manner — the physical from the spiritual. God himself placed it on or within the physical properties of the planet he supplied for our habitation.
When God set forth to create humans, the biblical narrative takes special care in walking us through God’s creative act. God, the spiritual source of all creation, imparted to the physical Adam a spirit, so that humanity would be the bridge for all creation between the spiritual realm and the physical realm. It was in this way that humanity would fulfill what God commissioned them to:
Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground. (Genesis 1:28)
Humans were originally designed to be the physical representatives of the Divine Spirit, God himself, to the material world around us. And only in perfect spiritual union with him would we successfully carry out our design to care for and develop that world.
At the dawn of creation, humanity lived in perfection. Every need was provided for without much effort. God provided a lush garden, and gave to them fruit from all the trees of the garden. The first humans did no work to create the garden or to make it bear fruit for their food. There were no animals or humans that sought their harm. God, the divine spirit, was the perfect source to meet their every physical need. They were perfectly safe, perfectly secure. They had a bright future before them.
And it was good.
Thus, God was the source of their physical needs — and he supplied them in rich, wild abundance — but he was also the source of their spiritual and ‘soulical’ needs, which he also supplied in rich abundance. God was their supplier in all things, and he supplied to the hilt without any prerequisite of performance or behavior.
They were to manage the physical resources God lavished on them (i.e. tend to the garden, fill the earth and subdue it), but also to operate in a way that reflected the character of this creative, generous, life-giving Divine Spirit.
And it was good. For a while…
In that one instant where humanity rebelled against God, the spiritual union humanity once enjoyed was ripped apart. Our first parents caused the rift, and the spiritual connection they had to their source was broken.
As the just God pronounced the new rules of the new reality humanity had before them in a fallen world, man entered into a new relationship with those physical resources he was originally created to cultivate:
“…cursed is the ground thanks to you. In painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat food, until you return to the the ground” (Genesis 3:17b-19)
The resources Adam had for his sustenance were no longer amicable. Suddenly, the one who was birthed into an abundance of physical resources came into a new reality where acquiring the resources he needed for survival would be “painful toil.”
This is the current reality in which we live to this day.
But the character of God was unchanging. And the heart of God was to bring his children back to himself. This is, of course, the overarching story of the Bible. God wanted to restore humanity back to the place not only of physical abundance but also of spiritual abundance.
And God revealed himself to Moses, the mediator of this relationship God had with Israel. God, the Source of Abundance, declared his glory:
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness [rich in love], maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
Rich in love.
Wealthy — but not wealth in a physical sense. This had nothing to do with assets, resource acquisition, or retention. This was (and is) the real wealth.
The substance of spiritual wealth can be seen in this passage: Love (specifically, promise-keeping love), grace, mercy, compassion, justice, and faithfulness. This is the manner in which humanity was created to operate as physical representatives of the spiritual God.
Notice what it didn’t say about God: Rich in land, rich in cash flow, rich in assets, rich in investments. Nothing like that. No mention of any kind of physical resources. Though he created them all, though he owns them all, his moniker made no mention of them. But it rested and held up on spiritual wealth.
Christ himself said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” thus indicating that although he had come in his first advent to bring forgiveness for sins, he had not come at that time to restore to his people material wealth.
However, in providing forgiveness, he did restore humanity’s access to spiritual wealth. Jesus, in his physical body, paid our spiritual debt incurred by rebellion, and opened the way for humans to gain access once again to connection with God. Thus, through Christ, we who receive his payment in faith, have been restored completely to the status of spiritual wealth as we have relational reconciliation to the God who is himself “rich in love.” This will be the foundation of our conversation going forward.
In God’s economy, blessedness has nothing to do with your financial portfolio, and has everything to do with your spiritual standing before him. Jesus’ words ring clear: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
And those of us who have been "born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead" have for us "an inheritance that is imperishable, unfading, and reserved for you in heaven" (1 Peter 1:3) — i.e. God fully plans to restore security for our physical needs when he restores/renews heaven and earth, in an epoch where spiritual connection with Christ is the common experience of all in the land (see Revelation 21).
So who really are the haves and the have-nots? If all of us live under the model of scarcity in the physical realm, if all of us have to deal with the root in the spiritual realm, then no matter your financial portfolio, no matter the resources to your name, all of us must first face our spiritual poverty and seek to be, in the words of Jesus, "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).
Next time we'll begin to explore how the provisions of the gospel impact our wealth...