Sometimes at work I’ll be coding Bethany House’s ebook specials page and I’ll think, “This is boring. What does this teach me about theology?”
I will let the nerdiness of that statement stand for itself and move on to my conclusion.
If you are a normal citizen of the twenty-first century, there are two basic ways for you to purchase a book: print and ebook.
If you buy a print book, you have taken one copy that will need to be replaced. If you check out a print book from the library, someone else can’t read it until you bring it back. If you steal it from your local bookstore, it’s gone. Print books work on the concept of scarcity—a limited number of copies exist, and if I own copy, you can’t own the same copy at the same time.
On the other hand, if you buy an ebook, it doesn’t make one less copy of the book somewhere. The amount available is unlimited. This is why, when I post a free ebook special on the Bethany House Facebook page, people share it all over the place. By inviting others to join in on the deal, they’re not hurting their chances of getting the book too. Everyone can enjoy it.
I think Christians should have an ebook mentality when it comes to most aspects of life.
When Jesus told the parable of the workers in the vineyard, he was talking to a crowd who thought in terms of scarcity. The early morning workers grumbled against the owner’s generosity of paying everyone equally, even though it didn’t cheat them out of a fair wage. Even back then, Jesus knew that we often choose to live as if someone else’s gain must be our loss.
But guess what? Our God is not a God of scarcity.
Sometimes we ignore this. We live cramped lives, fists tight around our love because it might run out. We measure our minutes because we forget about eternity in front of us and fight for what we deserve because what if God doesn’t really provide?
I’ve seen it, guys. I’ve seen Christians who live in a faith of scarcity, and few things make me as sad. Do you know what it looks like?
It’s the guy who will only act like a gentleman when he gets credit for it.
It’s the relative who must win—and win decisively—any political or theological discussion-turned-debate at any family event ever.
It’s the woman who reminds people (often) of what she’s giving up for Lent, the teacher who feels worthless if no students tell him that he changed their lives, the mom who bases her self-worth on the number of Facebook likes she got on her latest status update, the college student who is afraid to learn the names of the kids on her short term mission trip because she knows she’s going to be leaving soon.
But here’s what the generous life looks like.
It’s the Christian fiction writer who takes the time to mention and recommend a debut author in her book chat event, because she remembers what it’s like to have a first novel coming out.
It’s the little girl who doesn’t throw a fit when the music teacher tells her she’s going to have to share her solo and make it a duet.
It’s the lady at the potluck who can laugh when three people bring chocolate cake and hers looks the ugliest, the T-ball coach who lets the kid with special needs play, the college student who tithes despite student loans, the older man who can plan his funeral without regret, the camp counselor who says hi to all of the kids…by name.
One of my favorite verses is John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
I love the concept of abundance, of overflowing joy and blessing, of living like you believe God will give you enough. Enough patience to deal with stressful situations, enough love to give someone a second chance, enough wisdom to know what to say to a friend who’s hurting, enough humility to admit you’re wrong. This mindset lets you give until you are empty because you have faith that God will fill you again.
Once you live that way, you never want to go back to just following the rules, to just getting gold stars on your church attendance chart or checkmarks on your to-do list. That’s scarcity. That’s the version of Christianity we often try to sell to people, and it is not enough. It will never be enough.
You know what is more than enough, what is something so attractive that people will want to line up blocks away, pressing forward in excitement for the chance to get in?
Grace. Relationship with God. The generous, abundant life.
Let’s start talking about our faith that way.