The Theology of Enough
Text: John 10:10
Core Perspective: Trust God's Abundance
God has blessed us with enough. The practice of this theology goes against the ideology (and idolatry) of consumerism and consumption. It goes against the competitive spirit of acquisition. It frustrates the false glory of self-importance (I am what I own, what I control).
Theology of Enough!
"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." 2Corinth 9:8
I heard a new term the other day -- the "theology of enough." We've heard of scarcity thinking and abundance thinking, and that God is all about abundance ~ "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) Indeed, abundant, abundantly and abundance are mentioned 146 times in the Bible ~ an abundant number of times! But I've been considering this idea of the "theology of enough." God has blessed us with enough. The practice of this theology goes against the ideology (and idolatry) of consumerism and consumption. It goes against the competitive spirit of acquisition. It frustrates the false glory of self-importance (I am what I own, what I control).
To declare Enough seems radical.
Actually, I have a hard time coming to terms with it. For starters, I'm a collector by nature and Enough is a difficult concept for collectors. I have stones that I think are pretty, lots of them, tucked here and there...and interesting coins, and birdnests I've picked up off the ground after storms. I have enough boxes for any occasion, but it's still hard to let a new size or shape go into the recycling bin. (We've moved more than enough times -- I value sturdy boxes!) I know that I have canned enough tomato juice, but I've just borrowed more quart jars because I have an abundance of tomatoes ripening in paper bags and in the church yard. Last spring, I definitely collected enough maple sap and dutifully -- perhaps unreasonably -- boiled it all down to syrup. I have run into the current jar shortage because of this abundance. I have an abundance of stuff -- well past the Enough mark -- actually too much to keep track of and organize and utilize and clean and value properly.
But the theology of enough isn't about feeling guilty and overburdened -- that's just the point. It is to recognize the blessing of having Enough. I have enough people in my life who love and care for me (therefore I don't need to struggle with problems or loneliness on my own). I have enough material goods to be able to share and enough to keep (and in sharing could better appreciate the value of what I choose to keep). I have enough time to spend some of it on others in fellowship and affection (which would bring me out of my self-centered tendencies and help me actually see others).
I have enough to do, enough to contribute, enough to be content. And the glory of life, I think, is found in being content, at peace, appreciative, attentive, observant.
My ongoing relationship with honeybees helps me make sense of this concept. I've just brought in the honeycomb. My hive consists of two deep boxes stacked on top of each other, a queen excluder - which is a screen that prevents the queen from moving upward out of these two brood boxes, and a shallow top box, which the bees have nicely filled with honey and capped with wax. I brought the small box into the kitchen and will -- at some point -- cut out the comb, melt it down, and separate the honey from the wax. I've left the bees the two deep boxes ~ also filled with capped honey. In many cases, bees don't survive the winter and bee keepers start the spring with a new queen and cluster of workers. So I could take all the honey and just let the bees die now. I'd have a lot of honey ~ jars and jars, an abundance! But anyone who knows me, knows I could never do that. I've claimed these bees and talk to them, admire them when I see them out and about, am grateful to them for not joining the Renegades in Solvieg's oak tree or swarming somewhere new on their own. These are my Bees. I feel as much affection toward them as one can toward a hive of bees. I will hope that they have enough honey to last the winter, and know that the portion of their production I've taken is enough for me. There is a symbiosis in the practice of Enough. And in the theology of enough, as well.
"[God's] grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." (2Corin12:9)
God's grace is enough. It is sufficient. It will last. And, though there is most certainly an abundance of grace, in that symbiotic relationship, we are blessed to be a blessing -- to share -- to bear the burdens of one another -- to count the cost of our abundance.
Proof of blessing is not abundance. Perhaps the proof of blessing is the grace and humility and radical self-limitation of declaring Enough.