Welcome! I’m glad you’ve found this corner of the Internet — if for no other reason to see one of my “thinking pictures.” Apparently I grasp my glasses with my left hand when I’m thinking; who knew but my photographer?
My name is Daniel Ross-Jones and I’m a progressive Christian pastor living in Silicon Valley. During the day I’m a church bureaucrat, which is something I love to do. Even more than that work, I love to talk about abundance.
This all started from a few different genesis points. First, abundance is completely misunderstood. In the secular realm, abundance just is presumed to simply mean a lot of [insert thing here]. Abundance, in this understanding, is almost like its own unit of measurement. Can I get sixteen abundances on aisle 5?
In the church realm, abundance is just as confusing. In John 10, Jesus says that he came to Earth that we human beings could have life abundantly. Since most people of faith live in a secular world — even us professed religious types — we’ve come to adopt this simple understanding of abundance to be a matter of quantity.
All of this misses the point. I believe that God’s promise of abundance is sufficiency beyond recognition.
Precisely because of this promise of abundance, there is more than enough for all creation. That some have and hold more is not a signifier of God giving an extra helping of abundance on their life — how they steward those resources is a manifestation of God’s work in their heart.
Abundance demands stewardship. In his letters to the earliest churches, Paul writes a lot about spiritual gifts. There are a number of different listings, but my favorite of these images is in 1 Corinthians 12:
There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good. A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person. (CEB)
In our busy, modern life, we are surrounded by abundance. For those of us, like myself, living in the United States, hardly an hour can go by without being assaulted by graven images of hypercapitalism. These images come to us through buzzing alerts on myriad electronic devices, advertisements interrupting our YouTube playlists, those annoying auto-play videos on our favorite news websites. They come through the radio, podcasts, even our books and favorite musicians. You can spot them because their message is always a variation on the same themes:
- You are broken and inadequate.
- There is a finite amount of joy.
- If you aren’t accumulating for yourself, you are losing to others — and no one likes losers.
- Your worth is determined by your economic output and consumption.
- Momentary happiness is the ultimate satisfaction.
These themes are as powerful as some of the most addictive drugs — with just as much opportunity for help or hurt. Sadly, we are primed for hurt. And in this area, neither Christians nor others of faith nor those claiming no faith are immune.
Look again at the passage from 1 Corinthians. Now compare it to the list of five themes. Which one transforms lives?
That’s a trick question.
But it’s also a question that I cherish, that I struggle with daily, that I focus on through writing and resources here at Green Jello Hotdish. I can’t wait for you to join the conversation.