How much is enough? In an America where the middle class seems to be evaporating and the lower class is expanding at an alarming rate, while the top one percent accumulates both wealth and power at a pace never before seen in human history, this question rings more and more loudly in our ears.
It reflects what is perhaps the most profound lie of the world system, a lie that can be summed up in a single word: scarcity. We have all been raised to believe that the world is a closed system, a zero-based reality. (Thanks to Brian Zahnd for this understanding.) This is what drives our economics, our politics, our sociological and political conclusions. There are limited resources and if I don’t fight for my portion of them, I will be left without what I need.
A scarcity worldview leads inevitably to fear. The fear of not having enough is perhaps the greatest single motivator, and therefore molder of our thoughts and actions. It ensnares us as individuals, families and nations. We must never forget the pervasiveness of this system.
The spiritual Powers have used this world system of scarcity from the time of the Fall to control humanity for its purposes. It threatens us with loss of job, security, and prestige. It hangs over us with the constant fear of lack, or of missing out. The scarcity worldview is the primary reason why we live in a “war- shaped” world. And it is all built on a lie.
Jesus announces that God’s Kingdom has now come, and it is a Kingdom built on the truth of abundance. In heaven there is no lack; therefore, the false fear of scarcity has been banished. This Kingdom of abundance is there for everyone who will “taste and see”. This is why throughout the Gospels, Jesus challenged His listeners to see (literally, to perceive). Abundance is the truth. That is the message behind the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000.
When Jesus multiplied the very limited resources of the few loaves and fishes, He was stepping into the limitless resources of the Kingdom, and by having the disciples distribute the food, He was bringing them into this ultimate reality of abundance. But this is so antithetical to a lifetime of living according to the lie of scarcity, that it is incredibly difficult for the disciples to change their way of thinking.
In Mark 8, we read about an exchange that took place shortly after feeding the four thousand.
“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” (He is warning them about the world system of scarcity that is the foundation of fear and control.)
They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand?...When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
The miracle they had just witnessed was about more than a great crowd being fed with only a little food. Rather, it points them and us to a new reality. In the incarnation, God the Son became man (Jn 1:14); in doing so, He connected us to the infinite, to the limitless––to what is truly needed. This is why Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt 6:33)
Recognizing, making decisions and living according to the abundance of the Kingdom is one of the most important changes we will ever make––and one of the hardest. That is why the single most common phrase in the entire Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” God knows how deeply the world system of scarcity and fear is ingrained in us. That’s why He so patiently keeps talking to us: “Look up here. (Jn 4:35) Remember what I’ve already done. (Mk 8:18) Don’t worry. Don’t live in anxiety.” (Lu 12:22,26)
How much is enough? When we let Jesus lead us out of scarcity and into the abundance of the Kingdom, we discover that He carries the answer to that question in Who He is: the One who is our connector to the infinite boundlessness of Heaven now.
I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people. (Eph 1:18)