Are you preaching the theology of scarcity?
At our house, we no longer support Christian ministries that send out those “We’re going under financially unless you send money now” desperation letters. Nor do we send gifts to those broadcast ministry appeals with a similar message. Why? Simply because their approach demonstrates a lack of faith in God and a seriously flawed biblical theology!
It never ceases to amaze me how the notion of scarcity fuels the ecclesiastical economic engine in history’s wealthiest country! When the church echoes those sentiments, it forgets who it is and whose it is and sounds like a wailing child of the very society it is sent to save. The Bible’s God is no beggar! He doesn’t need to check the Wall Street Journal daily to figure out how much He’s worth. He already knows, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Biblical theology rejects the notion of scarcity and speaks of God’s sufficiency. Consider, for example, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). It is an affront to God’s promises to imagine that somehow He’ll fail to provide for His children. It is the height of arrogance to believe that somehow we can save His church by hoarding His money. It insults His person and His practices to tell other people they can save His work. The Bible’s theology is the theology of abundance. Remember feeding 5,000 (John 6)? The Cana wedding feast (John 2)? Simon’s bursting fishing nets (Luke 5)? We call these, and other Bible events like them, “miracles.” God calls them His everyday way of doing things. Or, revisit those field lilies in Luke 12 or the talents in Matthew 25! They all declare a biblical theology of sufficiency and how we view them will influence how we live and how we preach.
Or, think about the grace that saved you and keeps you saved! It has never been dispensed in scarcity, always in abundance. And always enough just by itself! So, we call it “amazing.” When you think of how far grace went at Calvary, “ruthless” would be a better word! So, now some of us buy into the idea that God who gave Jesus will fail us financially when we’re doing His work. I think not! “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Read Revelation chapters 2 and 3! No matter what eschatology flavors your thinking about those words, you must agree that God’s church never runs out of money. Sometimes its people run out of faith, zeal, or new ideas, or practice irresponsible stewardship and call it “a money problem.” But it’s not! In economic times like these, it is vitally important that we demonstrate our faith in God’s promises of abundant provision by how we preach, how we live, and how we give. On the surface, the contemporary financial climate does not favor a faith as tough and resilient as that demonstrated and taught by Jesus and the first century church but, in reality, it is times like these that demonstrate to the world around us, that world that thinks it knows best, where our hearts really lie. When it comes to financial matters, where is your heart? Whom do we really trust? Those Wall Street gurus who got us into this mess? Or, our caring Heavenly Father?
His promise is sufficiency all the time and for all time. Anytime you doubt that, remember Calvary’s ruthlessness. It’s an idea whose time has come! Preach it with all your heart!
Robert Leslie Holmes, pastor of Pittsburgh’s First Presbyterian Church, is a contributing editor to Preaching. He is the author of a number of books. The latest, The Creed: Life Principles for Today (Ambassador-Emerald Int’l), examines the Apostles’ Creed in the light of post-modernism. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.