What does everything we experience in life teach us about life? What does everything that our fathers, our culture, and institutions demand from us show us about the way life works?
That any approval we receive is always based on performance? That the basis of life is legal and transactional? That not only is there no free lunch, there are also only so many lunches to go around, and we must fight for finite resources if we want to survive. In other words, life teaches us a scarcity mentality. And we learn that lesson so well that it colors every aspect of life, including our concept of spiritual growth and God.
But Jesus is painting a very different picture because he knows as long as we’re applying our transactional view of life to God, as long as we’re fighting for our own piece of God or salvation, love or acceptance, we’re defeated before we begin.
Jesus tells us he came so we could have life and have it abundantly. His stories of huge catches of fish that threaten to break nets and sink boats; feeding thousands from a few loaves and fishes leaving baskets full of leftovers; tiny seeds that grow into great trees for nesting birds and yielding crops a hundred fold all point to an abundance beyond belief.
The first two Aramaic words of his prayer, abwoon d’bashmaya—our Father in heaven—tell us that heaven, all creation, is the outer face that reveals God’s inner essence. With science calculating up to two trillion galaxies in the known universe and up to 700 billion stars per galaxy, most with planets of their own and up to one trillion species of lifeforms per habitable planet, the heavens show us an insanely extravagant God for whom scarcity is unknown.
God is extravagance personified. Like rain and sun, he pours everything he has and is on every one of us all the time, whether we have performed well or not.
Realizing that abundance, not scarcity, is the ultimate reality of our lives changes our starting point, ending point, and every point in between.