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This devotional is part of a series in January that tells stories of “Bold Faith” written by CBF field personnel and members of a team composed of clergy and laity from across the Fellowship who are leading of process of prayerful discovery that will result in a faithful response. Find out more about this process called Toward Bold Faithfulness.
by Nell Green
John 10 has been my favorite passage in scripture for my entire adult life. I love the abundant extravagant love of the Shepherd. I love that each sheep is intimately known and called by name. I love that in verse 10, the Shepherd clearly says He has come that we will have abundant life. We will have life to its fullest.
What does that mean to you—abundance? What does extravagance mean? We often think in spiritual terms—extravagant love, abundant grace, loving kindness, patience etc. Is it possible that our Baptist culture has taught us to think of abundance only in terms of the spiritual and not the physical?
We hear the familiar words: the love of money is the root of all evil; health wealth gospel; name it, claim it; called to suffer; the poor you have with you always.
We hear things like God’s will dictated it; life is not fair; greed is one of the seven deadly sins. While there may be a theological basis to these and other scarcity ideologies, is it possible that focus on these beliefs limits us?
A focus on abundance and extravagance requires boldness.
The Israelites were slaves. Yet, on their exit from Egypt, they left with gold and riches that eventually led to constructing an extravagant center of worship.
The widow at Zarephath literally had nothing left and was waiting to die. From her own scarcity, she boldly made Elijah the bread he asked for. They all lived.
Psalm 23 is abundant and extravagant: now we lack nothing; now we rest; now God leads; now God is with us in the valley; now we are protected; now we have a beautiful table. Goodness and faithful love will pursue all the days of our lives! Abundant and extravagant! Abundance and extravagance that happens NOW!
The wedding at Cana? Over the top! Mary pouring out an expensive bottle of perfume? Wasteful! The father of the prodigal son, giving the inheritance before it was warranted and then throwing a feast? Unheard of! Taxpayers who had robbed and cheated, repaying above and beyond what was required? Unnecessary.
Merriam-Webster defines abundance as “an ample quantity.” Extravagance is defined as “lavish and profuse.” The scriptures are full of abundance, full of extravagance.
What if the Israelites had not taken the gold and riches? Would there have been a tabernacle? What if the widow had not made the bread? Would they have lived? What if the Psalmist had a scarcity mentality? How might Psalm 23 read? Would there be a feast waiting? What if Jesus’ mother had thought scarcity rather than abundance at the wedding? Would there have been a celebration? What if the father of the prodigal son focused on scarcity rather than extravagance? Where would the prodigal be and for that matter, his brother? What if the taxpayers had repaid only the minimum, fearing scarcity? Would they have continued following Jesus?
Every single day we are given a choice. We can let scarcity limit our possibilities or we can embrace and expect God’s abundance and extravagance. Abundance and extravagance require stepping out in faith. This requires boldness!
God is waiting to lavish resources upon us. God is waiting to bring forth abundance. Why? That we might be extravagant in sharing it with the world who so desperately needs it.
It requires a theology of abundance and extravagance rather than a theology of scarcity. It requires boldness. Let us be bold.
Nell Green serves as a CBF field personnel alongside her husband, Butch, in and around Houston, Texas, ministering to the Muslim community and engaging congregations in outreach with their Muslim neighbors. Learn more about and support their work at www.cbf.net/green. Be bold alongside them and shape the future of our Fellowship by taking CBF’s online survey today at www.cbf.net/survey.