So I was talking to my dog about a few things – as one does. You know, about life, and the Universe, and chasing rabbits, and just how glorious it is to walk through the park when it’s 65-degrees and sunny.
And I said something like, “Hey Max; you’re pretty happy, aren’t you?” And he doesn’t say anything, but just thumps his tail once or twice and smiles at me with his eyes.
Max: “Life is my favorite thing!” Wag. “You are my favorite thing!” Wag, wag. “Breakfast is my favorite thing!” Wag, wag, wag. “Has it been five minutes yet? Can we please do breakfast again?” Wag.
We get pretty deep sometimes in our talks, me and Max.
On a related note, I’ve been thinking seriously about the whole thing, about life in general and what it even means to exist, what our purpose is, and what we value. In other words, to grab a couple of key ideas from the scriptures, what do we mean by “Life,” by “Prosperity,” and by “Abundance“?
This is really an important set of questions for someone who is, say, 64 years of age and thinking about what is, essentially, the final third of his journey.
I have come to the conclusion – as someone who has always been an observer – that the vast majority of people have no clear vision when it comes to any of these words. And what they think they know is (too often) deeply, sadly, maladaptively, pathologically misinformed.
Here they are, again: Life. Prosperity. Abundance.
Jesus – and a related story:
Jesus, by the way, when he used the word “life,” actually meant everything that is implied by all three words.
Here is the very short version of a great story. My wife, Rebekah, was on a trip to Haiti when she met a Presbyterian missionary who ran an agricultural school. She commented on how his work helped people survive. “Survive?” he responded. “Anyone can survive. That’s not what I’m here for. The purpose of this mission is to see people thrive!”
It is easy to be confused, and to believe that what we need to thrive is a very narrow definition of “wealth.” But Jesus is direct and to the point – from the get-go – making his position crystal clear as early as his Sermon on the Mount: “Store your treasures in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy…” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Prosperity is independent of wealth:
My point being, I know people who own literally millions of dollars in “wealth,” and have their lives ahead of them, yet they are unfulfilled, disappointed, and stressed. Here’s what is cool about the Good News – the promise of abundance is theirs too!
Think about that. Abundance, prosperity, life – all of these operate independent of material wealth. Wealth cannot give us life, abundance, or prosperity. However, the Jesus understanding of life can add meaning, light, purpose, and abundance to wealth if we happen to have it.
Last point. Wealth does not equal prosperity. But meaning and purpose can transform wealth into prosperity, and the abundant life that comes when we live into the Good News.
This is the great power of love, light, grace, mercy, and promise. – DEREK