by Brent Uzzell
There are two competing paradigms in our world today. The predominant is that all resources are limited, scarce. The level of scarcity creates demand which determines value. The other paradigm, by far the least prevalent but as old as humanity itself, is that life is abundant. That life is filled with Good, that there is more than enough for all. The debate between these two world views rages today in our political, economic and religious discourse.
The consequences of the first paradigm, a faith in “lack” and scarcity are legion. We know the results as competition, aggression and violence of all kinds, greed, selfishness and fear. We sublimate emotional and spiritual growth into economic growth and personal accumulation. Greed becomes a social good and the bottom line the only measure of success. Social and environmental responsibility (love of neighbor and reverence for creation) become marketing slogans. Yet economic growth as currently defined is unsustainable long term and our ever increasing rapaciousness, left unchecked, will lead to social disintegration and environmental catastrophe.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus asked us to take the second paradigm (prosperity) seriously:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:25-33
Echoing this teaching the writer of 2 Peter opens with the assurance that “God has given us all things that pertain to life”. Surely the Love that intended us has already provided for us.
Prosperity, according to Webster, is an advance or gain in anything good or desirable, successful progress toward, or attainment of a desired object. Prosperity does not mean the same thing to any two persons.
To the wage earner an increase of a few dollars in the weekly income may seem like wonderful prosperity, for it means an increase in the comfort and welfare of his family. The man who engages in vast enterprises reckons prosperity in larger terms, and does not consider himself prosperous unless things are coming to him in a big way. Between these extremes are many ideas of prosperity, which shows quite plainly that prosperity is not in the possession of things but in the recognition of supply and in the knowledge of free and open access to an inexhaustible storehouse of all that is good or desirable.
In the great Mind of God there is no thought of lack, and such a thought has no rightful place in your mind. It is your birthright to be prosperous, regardless of who you are or where you may be. – from the book Prosperity by Charles Fillmore
Think about that last paragraph: “In the great Mind of God there is no thought of lack, and such a thought has no rightful place in your mind. It is your birthright to be prosperous, regardless of who you are or where you may be.” Critics of these thoughts decry this as simple narcissism. They hear in these ideas a kind of “Coke Machine” God—just drop in an affirmation and choose your flavor. I admit that it seems at times as if our Prosperity message were being taught that way.
What causes so much confusion, consternation and criticism of the prosperity message is that the critique of the prosperity message comes from those who operate within the paradigm of the belief in lack. They can find no validity in these thoughts because they operate in a completely different view of reality. To know the truth of Prosperity your world view must change. Your default way of being must change. Einstein is famously reputed to have said that “problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them”. When you are operating within the belief in scarcity you seek to acquire. You believe and behave as if good is limited, that what you have is not enough and that you may lose even the little you have. This endless pursuit of “possessing” is the single largest driver of our economy. We aren’t people, we are “consumers”. We aren’t asked to serve our neighbors out of the recession, or create or innovate our way out but instead to shop our way out. The answer to all our problems, or so the belief in lack would have it, is to acquire by working harder, to inherit or better yet, win the lottery! In short, possession is the answer to all problems. Our possessions possess us and often, become more powerful in our psyche and more demanding of our attention than God or people. This becomes our “truth” and anything counter to this “truth” must be rejected.
Walter Bruggeman, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary, said it this way in his article “The Liturgy of Abundance, The Myth of Scarcity”:
“The conflict between the narratives of abundance and of scarcity is the defining problem confronting us at the turn of the millennium. The gospel story of abundance asserts that we originated in the magnificent, inexplicable love of a God who loved the world into generous being. The baptismal service declares that each of us has been miraculously loved into existence by God. And the story of abundance says that our lives will end in God, and that this well-being cannot be taken from us. In the words of St. Paul, neither life nor death nor angels nor principalities nor things — nothing can separate us from God.”
How do we make this paradigm shift and change our default way of being in the world? We act our way into a new way of thinking. We bring our life into conformity with the Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by earnestly and honestly applying them. In daily application the Spiritual Laws of Prosperity work to change us.
The Spiritual Laws of Prosperity:
1. What is mine cannot be taken away (Matt 6:19-21)
2. That there is always more than enough for all (Ps 104, 150 and Matt 6:25-33)
3. That all my needs are met by God’s riches in glory (2 Peter 1:3-8)
4. That as I give, I receive (Luke 6:38)
5. That gratitude is the door and forgiveness the key to the storehouse of heaven (Matt 7:1-5, and 1 Thess 5:18)
6. That tithing to my Spiritual Source is an exercise in gratitude that keeps me mindful of the fact that God is my source, not my paycheck (Malachi 3:10)
When applied to our lives, these laws transform our rapacious, grasping, possessing fears and liberate us to be constantly at play in a universe of infinite possibilities. We are relieved of the need to possess and control. We can enjoy without owning and share without regret. We no longer attach a sense of safety or status to material objects but we return to the proper order of priorities knowing that we are beloved children of a boundless God who seeks only our good. It is no longer my desire to compete. Winning is when all gain and no one loses. Struggle is worse than useless, it’s harmful. Competition becomes meaningless as we seek to collaborate and support each other to achieving our fullest potential. We are free to risk, to innovate and create. We give birth to the possible and achieve what before we would have believed impossible.
This world does not require some Imperial decree or authoritarian force. In fact compulsion will never bring this world into existence; for this experience of life is the Kingdom of God and it can only be realized within each individual human heart. Each of us must do the work for ourselves, from our own desire to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds”.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-10
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Speaker and teacher Brent Uzzell, LUT, opens hearts as he shares from over 25 years of experience, training and research in New Thought, Metaphysics, philosophy, spirituality, theology, psychology, cultural anthropology, and history. As of 2008 Brent is the Spiritual leader of the Unity Church of Nacogdoches and chair of the Nacogdoches Ministerial Alliance.