Fatal Spelling Errors: Some Thoughts on Gun Violence

Any time there is a shooting of an innocent person or people in this county, we always hear the same talking points. There are those who claim guns are the problem and want to use the emotional momentum to spur on the debate over gun control policies. Then there are those who want to shut down all the discussion and accuse the other side of “politicizing” the tragedy.

After all, “guns don’t kill people.” It’s not a gun problem, it’s a heart problem. (Says the only country in the industrialized world with this level of gun violence.)

One common “argument” I hear, read, and mostly see in memes goes something like this: If guns kill people, then this pencil misspelled the word and this spoon made me fat.

I get it. We want the human responsibility to take front and center. A gun, after all, is just a tool. Well, a weapon actually. Its only function is to harm, maim, or kill. If it’s a tool, then it is a tool made for violence and destruction.

But let’s think about those analogies a little more seriously.

Yes, pencils are not to blame for misspelling words. I’ve misspelled plenty of words just in typing this. I’m thankful for spell check (most of the time). It’s not the pencil’s or the keyboard’s fault. It’s human error and mistakes. If I misspell a word, that’s on me.

Kind of.

See, I was taught how to spell. I was instructed for YEARS on how to spell correctly. And even then I cannot for the life of me spell license right on the first try. Even then, it autocorrected for me.

What if….every time I misspelled a word there were a non-zero chance of someone being fatally wounded? What if I had to spell license correctly (I did it!) or else someone could get injured, necessitating a trip to the ER? If that were the case, then I would hope and pray we would be smart enough not to let someone write anything with a pencil unless they were 100% accurate in their spelling.

If misspelling words had a real world chance of killing people, you know there would be people misspelling words on purpose in order to cause others harm. And so we as a society shouldn’t ban pencils altogether; after all, there are plenty of cases in which they are needed. But we should make absolutely sure no one has a pencil unless they were trained, and then we should keep tabs on those who do have them in order to make sure they aren’t negligent in their handling of the pencils and written words.

And yeah, spoons don’t make you fat. But if there were a legitimate chance you could kill yourself by overeating at a meal, then it would behoove your family to remove all eating utensils unless you were closely monitored.

Yes, I have the 2nd Amendment guaranteeing my right to bear arms in order to keep and maintain a well-regulated militia. But as a Christian I am a citizen of a kingdom whose ideals transcend violence and bloodshed. I follow a teacher who told his followers to put down their weapons. I serve a God who gave us a vision of a future in which weapons of war were smelted, beaten, transformed into tools of creation.

I 100% agree we have a heart problem. But that doesn’t mean we don’t also have a gun problem. It isn’t a corrupt heart that leads police officers to gun down innocent citizens in their homes at night. It isn’t a corrupt heart that leads a child to accidentally shoot himself or a family member.

It is a heart problem that caused Peter to swing a sword in defense of his rabbi. If there is corruption and evil in my heart, the last thing I need in my hand is one of the most violent weapons in human history.

PERSECUTED | 40 Days of Focus, Day 25


Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 | NIV) 

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
(Matthew 5:10 | The Message)

Most of us have no idea what it really looks like to be persecuted. We’ve all experienced bullies and jerks. We’ve all face insults and passive aggressiveness. But real persecution is deeper than that. Persecution arises out of fear and a lack of understanding. We fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear.

One of the most misunderstood types on the Enneagram is Type 5 – the Observer or Investigator. Fives have a deep inner commitment to truth and knowledge. They would rather sit back and people watch than actually engage in social interactions. They read the Encyclopedia for fun as kids. They are typically the type of people who know a little bit about everything and everything about something. The pursuit of knowledge and insight takes a high priority in their lives, to the point that they can seem aloof or standoffish. They tend to act more introverted than most other Types.

As such, they can be hard to relate to. They may be able to talk your ear off about differentials or automatic transmissions, but might not be up to date on the latest Marvel movies.

They are passionate about getting things right and doing things right. When they gain interest in a subject, they tend to go all in. They can be some of the best researchers, scientists, and engineers. But they might not be the “best” spouse, friend, or coworker. This can lead to ostracism and misunderstanding.

And we fear that which we don’t understand. We cannot love that which we fear. We mistreat that which we do not love.

Fives can feel persecuted because of their beliefs, values, and hoard of knowledge. They can feel left out, excluded, and unwelcome. That is…if they ever admit to these feelings.

An example of a Five in Scripture facing some level of persecution is Nicodemus. He appears three times in John’s Gospel. First he has a nighttime conversation with Jesus in which Jesus challenged everything he thought he knew about God. The second time we see him, Nicodemus is standing up for Jesus, pointing out that their own law prohibits the leaders from arresting Jesus without cause. They all turn on him and begin to ridicule him – even though he was simply stating facts, using his knowledge of the law to defend Jesus.

People don’t really like know-it-alls. That’s the boat most Fives find themselves in more often than we realize.

It’s important for all of us to do a better job getting to know one another. You cannot love your neighbor if you are afraid of them. You cannot overcome your fear of them if you don’t take the time to know and understand them. That’s what we all want, really – to know and to be known; to love and to be loved. And that’s what the kingdom of heaven is all about.

Do you know any Fives in your life? How might their knowledge come into conflict with their relationships?

What is our typical response when someone else points out where we’ve gone wrong? Even though they’re right, why do we react negatively?

Is there a person or group of people you’re afraid to get to know? Why? What steps can you take this week to reach out to them?

Did Jesus Condone Slavery?

This question on the r/Christianity subreddit sparked quite a controversy in the comments. But I think it’s worth thinking about and trying to get at an answer.

Would Jesus have been in favor of, or at least complicit with the system of slavery?

[TL;DR – NO!]

The unfortunate part of answering this question is that a biblical case can be made both in support of slavery and against it. That’s why both Union and Confederate soldiers could believe they had God on their side. Slave owners and abolitionists both used Scripture to justify their actions and ideologies.

I think we have to start by admitting some things:

  1. Slavery was a part of society and culture basically from the beginning of Scripture. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The Israelites were allowed to have slaves/servants (with certain rules and restrictions). The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans all had slavery as part of their economic system.
  2. Jesus and his earliest followers did not explicitly fight against the institution of slavery. They did not speak out against it. They weren’t really abolitionists.
  3. Both Paul and Peter addressed slaves and slave masters in their letters, but never encouraged slaves to rebel or run away and never indicated that masters should free their slaves.
  4. As pointed out by one of the commenters (a self-described atheist), the entire letter of Philemon is about Paul sending a runaway slave back to his master.

If that’s all we looked at, then it would seem clear that Jesus, the early Christians, and indeed the Bible and God himself, all condoned and approved of slavery. These are the things atheists will point to as a reason for not taking Scripture seriously.

I don’t have time here to comb the entirety of Scripture. I think the Bible handles slavery like it does war, violence, women, patriarchy, disease, etc. Here’s what I mean by that. War, slavery, and oppression of women were not prescriptive, but rather descriptive. The Bible was not written in a vacuum. The biblical authors were products of their time and place in history. Slavery was a part of the culture, but it didn’t have to be forever. War was a seemingly inevitable part of life, but it didn’t have to be forever. Women were viewed as inferior to men and treated as property, but it wouldn’t have to be that way forever.
Looking specifically at slavery, here’s what we see. In Exodus 21 God gives the Israelites rules and restrictions concerning slaves. They had been slaves themselves in Egypt under cruel, oppressive masters. So they were not to be cruel and oppressive. In fact, God commanded that after 7 years all the slaves were to be set free. And slavery in this case was for economic purposes. The Israelites weren’t invading other lands and dragging people away from their homes in order to buy and sell them off for life. Slaves in Israel were rather like indentured servants. If a man fell on hard times economically, he could go to work for a wealthier family in order to pay down his debt and get back on his feet financially. And after seven years he was allowed to go free.
There were other laws and regulations about taking foreign slaves after winning battles and such. But again, the laws were in place to protect the dignity and wellbeing of the slaves and to restrict the cruelty and violence of the slave owners.
But was slavery intended to be part of the system forever? No. Look at this vision of what would happen when the Messiah came:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Freedom for prisoners, release for captives, mercy for the oppressed, the Year of the Lord’s Favor (i.e. the year of Jubilee, see Leviticus 25). This is what could be expected when the Messiah comes. In fact, Jesus read this very passage at the start of his ministry and boldly pronounced that he was the one Isaiah was talking about.

Slavery had no place in the Kingdom of God as inaugurated by his Anointed One.

Mary knew this would be the case. As the incarnate God developed in her womb, Mary offered a song/prayer known commonly as the Magnificat. Look at what she says right in the middle of it.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
(Luke 1:51-53)

Mary knew something was about to happen. She knew that God’s kingdom was near. She knew the implications that would have for societies and cultures and economic structures. And she rejoiced that she got to play a role in it.

Like we admitted early, Jesus never really addresses the institution of slavery except to turn all power structures on their heads. Jesus may not have said that slavery is evil and wrong. But he did say that whoever wants to be the greatest must become a slave to all (Matthew 20:27; Mark 10:44). The gospels record Jesus talking about servants much more frequently. But even then, it was mostly in parables describing our relationship with God. God is the “master,” we are his “servants.” But when it came to human power structures, Jesus would say things like “the greatest among you will be your servant.”

As evil as slavery was/is, that wasn’t Jesus’ primary goal. If Jesus only came as an outspoken abolitionist, he wouldn’t have been the Savior of the world. Working toward ending slavery is a fantastic, necessary endeavor, but that’s only a small part of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here’s the genius of what Jesus was doing. If you set all the slaves free, you ostracize and demonize the slave owners. But if you show how slaves and masters are on equal ground at the foot of the cross, then real lasting change is possible.

One of my favorite lines from any Christmas hymn is this one from “O Holy Night”:

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease

So if Christ came to break chains, end oppression, and set us free (among other things), then what did that look like in the early church? Let’s take a look at some of Paul’s and Peter’s letters to see how this played out.

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. (1 Corinthians 7:21-24)

A few important notes about this passage. Paul encourages slaves to “gain freedom” if they can, but not necessarily to fight and rebel. If you came to faith in Christ as a slave, then you are free in the Lord. If you were a free person, then you are a slave to the Lord. Faith in Christ changes our status among each other. There’s no need to fight for what’s already been given. It’s also important to keep in mind that the earliest followers of Christ still believed that his return was imminent. Christ would be coming back any day now, so they thought. Therefore, let’s not rock the boat too much. We see a lot of things change over time as we progress through Paul’s letters.

Now we come to one of the most incredible passages not just in the Bible but in all of ancient literature:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

Paul makes a similar statement a little later, too.

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11)

Paul makes the bold claim that we are all equal in Christ. Race, nationality, gender, language, and socioeconomic status have no bearing on your place in the church. When masters and slaves are worshiping and serving together, that is laying the groundwork for bringing slavery to an end.

Now we need to take a look at the “household codes” found in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6:5-9)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. (Colossians 3:22-25)

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:16-21)

Paul and Peter are trying to reframe the whole hierarchy of human power structures. If you are a slave, you are not working for your master but for the Lord. If you are a master, then you should treat your slaves like you would a brother, or in fact Christ. As Christ submitted himself to human authority, so should we. But as Christ never used his power and authority to oppress others, neither should we.

A quick word about Philemon. Yes, Paul was sending Onesimus, a runaway slave, back to his master, Philemon. But if you actually read the letter, Paul makes it clear that things have changed. Onesimus is not returning as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Paul urges Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as he would welcome Paul. The slave and the master are brothers. This changes everything.

NEVER, under any circumstances, was it ever stated or even implied that the North American Slave Trade industry was ordained by God or anything but pure evil. Those who used these passages as justification for the atrocities of slavery in the Americas and the British Empire were completely missing the whole point. Using the very words of Jesus (who said not to lord power over others) in order to lord power over others is entirely heretical. It’s a gross abuse of power and Scripture. It’s a sad part of our history as a church and as a nation that there were slave owners who thought God was on their side.

Jesus said, “Whatever you did/did not do to the least of these, you did/did not do it to me.”

Jesus stands with the oppressed. Jesus parties with the marginalized and outcast. Would Jesus approve of or condone slavery? I think the answer is emphatically NO.

6 Reasons Christians Should Care About Climate Change

Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on the state of global climate change. Things are not looking good to say the least. You can easily look up the report and read it for yourself. At the rate we’re going, we have about 12 years to come together as a global community and turn things around.

It’s almost time to hit the panic button.

Mike McHargue released an episode of his podcast “Ask Science Mike” this week discussing the report and what we can/should do about it. I highly recommend giving it a listen (begin at about the 5:38 mark). It’s upsetting to me that we could be experiencing the catastrophic effects of global warming within our lifetime. We’re not just talking about the distant future of our grandchildren’s grandchildren. We are talking about a couple of decades from now.

When I was younger I remember hearing people in the church shrug off the warnings of global warming. I would hear things like, “The climate has changed before. It’s a completely natural part of Earth’s cycles.” Or “who are we to think that humans could cause such a thing as this?” Or worse, “God said he would never destroy the Earth again, so there’s nothing we can do to destroy it.”

There are still climate change deniers, but I think it’s time we all got more serious about this. Caring for the environment should not be a partisan issue. Reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint should not be viewed as a bad thing. Even if you don’t believe that human activity (eg. burning fossil fuels and stripping rainforests to make pasture land for livestock) is driving climate change, I still think there are plenty of reasons to start taking better care of our planet.

I’m no Captain Planet, but here are six key reasons I believe Christians should care about the environment.

1) We are created in the Image of God.

Our Scriptures begin with the story of creation (Genesis 1, 2). Genesis 1 is a beautiful song depicting God’s work in breathtaking poetic language. God creates light, then oceans and atmosphere, then dry land and vegetation, then birds and fish, then land animals. Last of all God created humans:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Men and women – ALL homo sapiens – are created in the Image of God. This is one of the foundational truths of the Bible. If we don’t have that as our starting point, then nothing else really matters. The Image of God is a loaded term. We could write entire volumes of books on what the term means and its implications. But suffice it to say that human beings are God’s representatives to the rest of creation.

Humans were endowed with certain cognitive, physical, and social capabilities that (as far as we know) are unprecedented in the known universe. Humans have survived not because we are the most well evolved species on the planet, but because we have a language, fine motor skills, and social cooperation. A lone human will not survive for long. But get 20 or 30 of us together and we can create our own society.

As God’s image bearers, we have some of the divine spirit in us, too. We have the ability to show love and compassion, forgiveness and mercy. We share in God’s creative work, too. We see the world not just as it is but as it could be. Humans can help tame the chaos. Humans can help bring order and flourishing for all the codependent ecosystems.

Since humans are created in God’s image and likeness, then our first inclination should be to do the things God would do. That includes, but is certainly not limited to, caring for the rest of non-human creation on this planet.

2) God placed humans in charge of tending and caring for the Earth.

Closely connected with the first point is this: we bear the divine image and are given a divine vocation.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)

This is where a lot of people have gotten tripped up over the centuries. What does it meant to “subdue” and “rule over”? I believe many men have taken that to mean the Earth is ours to do with as we please. Some think this means that the Earth and everything in it was made for humanity to use, to exploit, to take advantage of for our own personal gains.

But this is kingly language. Humanity is “ruling over” the Earth is God’s vassal governors. Yes, there are parts of this world that I am glad to have brought under our control. But what do we do once we have brought about order and submission? I don’t believe the answer is to run roughshod over creation. We should instead do everything within our power to make creation come alive and flourish to the glory of God. After all, creation itself is supposed to reveal something of God to us – namely God’s divine nature and eternal power (Romans 1:20).

Would nonhuman creation call us benevolent rulers or maniacal tyrants?

3) Our actions impact more than just ourselves.

What comes to mind when you think of the word “sin”? The Bible is littered with lists of sins – those actions and attitudes that are contrary to God’s way of life for his people. But take a look at one of those lists – any list. Think about anything we would consider to be a sin.

Is there a sin that affects only you and no one/nothing else in any way?

Any sin you can think of has an impact greater than the one committing the sin. That’s why it’s such a big deal to God. God is community and love within Godself. God creates out of communal love for the purpose of communal love. That’s why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

When the first humans sinned by eating the fruit from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis 3), God plainly laid out the consequences to their action. They did not die immediately, but they were separated 1) from God, 2) from each other, and 3) from the rest of creation. Sin drove a wedge between all these relationships.

Hear this: our sin of greed has caused potentially irreparable harm to the rest of creation.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Our sin of greed has made matters exponentially worse since the industrial revolution. Our desire for more – more money, more power, more things, more comfort, more convenience – has had devastating effects on the rest of creation. I can only imagine that creation is crying out more than ever, is more frustrated than ever at being subject to bondage.

We must be willing to take responsibility for our own actions and begin living in such a way as to reduce the harmful impacts of our own greed and evil desires.

4) It’s more economical.

Ok, so maybe you’re not convinced by the science or the theology. But everyone should be able to get behind the economics of sustainability. And no, I’m not talking about going out and buying a Prius. In fact, the more economical thing to do is to keep your vehicles as long as possible, keep them well maintained, and drive more efficiently.

Come on. Who wouldn’t want to pay less for gas? Who wouldn’t want to see a smaller electricity or water bill? Who wouldn’t want to support local farmers and merchants rather than gigantic, unsustainable mega-corporations?

We live in a consumeristic society. The real challenge is to consume less and create/contribute more. This is called stewardship. There’s a whole case for stewardship to be made in Scripture. Basically, everything belongs to God. The blessings we have come from God and are meant to be used to bless others.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops (Proverbs 3:9)

We have a say as consumers. We vote with our dollars. Companies pay attention to market trends. If we are spending more of our money on locally-sourced, sustainable, and/or fair trade products, then producers and manufacturers will take note. If we invest more into green companies who are working to develop more efficient forms of energy at lower costs, then we will all benefit in the long run.

Renewable energy and sustainable products just make more economic sense. We must be better stewards of the blessings God has given us.

5) It’s a justice thing.

This should be a really big wake-up call for Christians globally. According to all predictions that I’ve seen, those who are less well off are going to be the most impacted by climate change. Not everyone can afford to move. Not everyone can keep up with the predicted rise in food and energy costs. In extreme weather events, those with poorer housing and shelter are going to be the least able to survive. We must be preparing for a humanitarian crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Climate change has the potential to produce more refugees globally than we could possibly support.

When economies collapse, it will be “the least of these” who suffer the most. When hurricanes gain unprecedented strength, it will be “the least of these” who are swallowed in the storm surge. When wild fires rage and crops fail and sea levels rise, it will be “the least of these” who will experience the greatest impact.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:41-45)

Instead of preparing to help the countless numbers of refugees men and women God’s Image Bearers who will be negatively affected by climate change, we are severely cutting down on the number of refugees we will allow into this country. We are building a wall along our souther border with Mexico to prevent people from entering the US. We are scaling back the amount of global aide and support given to developing nations. We have pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement. We have alienated our closest allies and buddied up with tyrannical dictators. We have beefed up our military spending while making cuts to social security and healthcare.

Remember – we will be judged by how we treated “the least of these.”

6) The Kingdom of God promotes flourishing of all people and all creation.

This isn’t heaven yet. Not by a long shot. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to make this world a little more like heaven.

One of the key differentiators between the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdoms of the World is abundance versus scarcity. God’s kingdom is one of abundance. In God’s kingdom everyone has enough, everyone has clothes, food, shelter. Everyone’s needs are taken care of. Everyone is given the chance to flourish and thrive and reach their fullest potential.

The Kingdoms of this World live on a scarcity mindset. The fear is that there is not enough for everyone. There won’t be enough food or water or luxuries, so we have to forcibly take and/or protect what’s ours.

This will only get worse with climate change. Resources will become more scarce. Water sources will dry up. Fossil fuel reserves will become depleted. Useable farmland could all but vanish. Extinctions could occur on widespread scales along the entire food chain. Scarcity will be the new norm.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Scarcity defines the kingdoms, empires, and nations of this world. Abundance defines the kingdom of heaven.

Think about everything Jesus did in order to prove this very point. He healed the sick, blind, lame, and deaf. He preached to the poor and outcasts. He caused a miraculous catch of fish – so much that it nearly sank the boats. He took a few loaves of bread and some fish and multiplied them into enough food to feed thousands.

Jesus came to preach a kingdom of abundance, not so that we could greedily hoard it all, but so that we could all share what we have and provide for each other out of that abundance.

This is exactly what the early Christians did:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

In the coming decades it will be increasingly important that God’s people live out of a place of abundance – sharing what we have, giving to those in need, not taking more than we need. The fear of scarcity has no place in the kingdom of heaven. But if we want to prevent widespread scarcity of resources (necessities, not just luxuries), then we need to take this as seriously as the early church did. We must redefine “enough.” We must reprioritize our wants and our needs. We must celebrate and become good stewards of the blessings we have from God in Christ. And we must be willing to share with those in need.

I’m not perfect at any of this. In fact, I’ve gotten lazier about these things in the last few years. But it’s up to each one of us to make little changes that will make a big impact.


That’s an ancient word/phrase meaning “Lord, come quickly.” It could mean we want Christ to return and for the kingdom of heaven to be fully realized as promised at the end of Revelation. Or it could mean that we need God to act in a big way, to show up and put everything to right.

As we proceed into a potentially ominous future, I believe this prayer is critical for God’s people. It reminds us who is ultimately in charge. It reminds us that this isn’t heaven yet. It reminds us of the hope we have in Christ Jesus that one day all will be made new.