We need not be rich to be blessed. But we can count ourselves fortunate if we have been raised in a home of relative abundance. Our family was economically comfortable. We lived on an Australian farm of several thousand acres. We knew there was more than enough. Should times turn bad there was an abundance of land, good soil and water to sustain ourselves on vegetables, fruit, eggs and the occasional lamb chop. We saw our economic environment as benign rather than hostile.
My blood father was a pastor who had passed away at 29. Mum lived on a pension and we lived for about a year with my grandparents at Ryde in Sydney. Mum married a farmer and we moved to Narromine in central western New South Wales. It was never spoken out loud on the farm, but I absorbed the idea that God does provide. More than once I saw that God protected crops from things like hail and bushfire. My step-father was a man of character and integrity. He loved the Lord and was faithful to what he knew. I would often see his pyjama clad form bowed beside his bed before turning in at night. He really was a Godly man. Not every family is blessed with such a father. I have encountered fathers who are character light-weights. Where families are concerned I have seen that usually the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Being raised in abundance rather than in scarcity helps shape your outlook on life. Delivered from the prospect of economic annihilation one is liberated from a survival mentality to an expectation that it is normal to flourish. Mr Micauber had the expectation that ‘everything will turn out well in the end.’ I have suffered some personal disasters earlier in my journey but not once did I think that life was a dim, dark veil of tears or a sorry episode between two eternities.
I have never defined my life as about surviving. I have always seen life as about ‘living’ as in transcending the self and circumstance. One need not be wealthy to do this. But it helps to be open minded and a visionary. I have learnt personally and seen that in Christ we can overcome circumstances and the schemes of the Enemy. Not only do we have a real life in out Father. We carry the authority of His Son.
There is no poverty mentality in our life in God. I don’t mean we will all enjoy monetary wealth. But we can flourish in a surfeit of life. Father is massively life-centred. The trinity created us to share the life they enjoyed together.
Jesus was never obsessed with ‘not sinning’ and is not obsessed with your sins. His passion is you and His desire is that you enjoy the fullness of life He created you and then re-created you to enjoy. Jesus forgave us for our sins in order to set us free into life without measure. Jesus was a life addict. Jesus is the life without limit guy who is the fullness of God. In making us one with our Father He places us in His river of spirit and life. This is the difference between real life and being dead folks walking – our radiating His spirit and life. This realm of abundance is our union with Him. It separates all who live in the poverty mentality of religion from those who live in the extravagant life that is God.
‘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 NIV.
POVERTY OF BEING
Living from the law we can never overflow with spirit and life. Law separates us from God and from ourselves. Here it is unlikely that we would ever possess a surfeit of wisdom and revelation because we are contained in separation – separation from God. A law incubated sermon cannot be filled with the spirit of revelation. Separation produces religion. But never spirit and life.
The law is a manifestation of the knowledge of good and evil and its alienated living. It has two main effects: It bogs us in obsessing about behaviours. Then it captures us in a preoccupation with the truth or error of beliefs. This is how one can have a belief system yet possess no life in God.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
SPIRIT AND LIFE
Spirit and life is a quality of the trinity that has been passed on to you. It cannot be replicated by law or religion. It is not something of the head and nor is it an emotion. It is the spirit-life of God expressed as you. John is not only speaking of discerning individual spirits here. He is differentiating between the spirit of religion and the spirit that is the Kingdom of God. This is not a culture of Bible study, a conversation about God or being conversant with a theology and a belief system. This is the fullness of God dwelling in you in the same manner as ‘In Him lived the fullness of the God-head bodily.’ He’s talking incarnation – the key fact of the new testament age.
‘This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God’ 1 John 4.2 NIV.
This is the wealth of every Believer and the common-wealth that is the church.
LIVING FROM SCARCITY
A peasant lives to survive. Condemned by scarcity to a bare-bones existence of scavenging to survive, a peasant has little opportunity to expand the mind let alone the spirit and the soul. A peasant must make do with a minimum self and an atrophied humanity. He has no choice. Yet there are kings and priests who shine as human beings in hostile circumstances because their spirit – rather than allow itself to be defined by its surroundings – triumphs over poor conditions and shines because of the Spirit within. Jesus utilised the ugliness of the crime of His crucifixion to turn His death in to life for all. The spirit of Christ cannot be suffocated even by death! So what does this tell us about Christ in us?
I once told a friend I was doing a major in sociology and politics. We do this kind of thing in our house. He replied that he chose subjects that provided a secure monetary reward – like accountancy and commerce. To this day he lives and breathes shrunken ideas. His attitude came from a scarcity mentality where one is entirely absorbed in the project of surviving.
That’s ok if we are a peasant or a bullock. Not alright for a human being made in God’s image. In survival mode we live barely above the nature of a beast. We can do a fair likeness of a steer eating grass in a paddock, turning forage into manure and coming to the end of our days having done nothing but progress towards becoming a steak. Ok if your name is Aberdeen Angus but not if you are a son/daughter of God.
We need not live in a peasant mentality because we began life in that mode. Many who began poor have become rich or at least attained a level of comfort and well-being that delivers them from poverty of goods and of spirit. Yet people retain poverty mentality when they are middle class and not poor They continue to act like peasants when they actually have more than enough. They choose to live in scarcity when things are not scarce and opt for a peasant like identity when they are not peasants. They scrimp, hoard and scavenge as if their economic life depended on it – when it does not. This is a parable of how many live their Christian life - scrimping and scavenging and enduring for WHAT THEY ALREADY HAVE!
To live with an obsession about sin and the law is to live in the Christian equivalent of a poverty mentality. The Christian equivalent of living in a poverty mentality sees us living in a scarcity of grace and locked into a ‘try harder’ syndrome. Obsessing over the question ‘Have I done enough’ is irrelevant to the riches of our Kingdom life. Father in Jesus has already done more than enough to assure our union with Himself forever.
OLD COVENANT POVERTY
Living in the old covenant when God has given us the new is a spiritual poverty mentality.
Many Christians have never made this transition because it has infrequently been lived let alone taught. Some communities are entirely ignorant of the new covenant and the incarnation because law is the foundation of their religion. Others absorb it from the culture of a Christian industry whose existence is based on telling people how to get what they already have in Christ.
We have union with God. He has already made the two one and taken down the wall of separation between Father and ourselves. We belong! What we become in this life flows out of the at-one-ment that is currently ours and which we had no part in achieving. We have boundless wealth in Jesus. We have an inheritance that can never be taken from us, which his union with God and His indwelling of us. Paul declared,
‘Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ’ Eph 3.8 NIV.
Well may Paul talk of the riches of Christ because Christ Himself is our life and all that Jesus has with Father is our possession and our inheritance in Him. ‘To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.27 NIV. But this is not only a hope. It is a present reality because Christ is our life.
This wealth is not somewhere else. It is in you! ‘So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus’ Eph 2.7 NLT. United with Christ we are in fellowship with the trinity. Jesus said that if we believe and obey His message the God-head comes to live in our being. Nothing bereft about that!