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Theology Matters Part 5: The birth of the church

We are approaching the anniversary of Pentecost Sunday in the Christian Church on Sunday, May 28. Pentecost Sunday is also known as the birthday of the church. In Greek it is the birth of the ekklesia, or the called out ones.

Pentecost Sunday, in addition to being the birthday of the church, is also an illustration of the struggle between two theologies. Those theologies are the Theology of Scarcity and the Theology of Sufficiency.

For those who may not know, the theology of scarcity is a belief there are not enough natural resources, thus there is only a small amount of financial resources for everybody to live on. The theology of scarcity creates the need for competition with other people for what is believed to be a small piece of the pie for people to acquire. This theology also creates a mindset that leads to political policies some people call conservatism.

Conservatism is based on this theology of scarcity and attempts to conserve the so-called meager financial resources available. This theology of scarcity and the conservative political ideology that goes with it is on full display as the country faces the debt ceiling battle that has become so prevalent since the election of the first Black president.

Those who identify as so-called fiscal conservatives parrot the narrative that they want to cut spending, in particular, spending on what they have erroneously labeled as entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits). The label is intentionally misleading because Americans pay into these safety net provisions through payroll deductions. They are not entitlements.

The theology of scarcity is based on fear, the fear of not having enough and is a blasphemy against the creator of life and the scared scriptures. It suggests the creator God did not make enough resources for people to live on and intended to pit people against one another in a fight to survive.

Pentecost lifts up the true biblical theology of sufficiency. The theology of sufficiency proposes that God has created more than enough for every human to have enough of whatever he needs. After the Holy Spirit fell in Acts 2, after the disciples spoke in languages they had never studied, giving glory to God, and after the church was born, the believers created a self-sufficient community based on God’s total sufficiency.

That self-sufficient community of believers did not have any person in need. Acts 2 and 4 tell us, “no one was in need because everybody shared what they had.” The community thus had no reason to be in competition with one another and moved to being in cooperation with each other.

Wealthy people in the community were not treated as special people who required exclusive privileges, but the wealthy people in the Acts community saw themselves first of all as servants of God to the people and second they sold properties to help finance the overall well-being of all the people in the community.

People in the new community of believers in Jesus the Christ were linked by the desire to love one another and the compassion to treat each person as a human who deserved dignity. They were anchored by a faith in God that informed them God had not only created enough for them to survive on, but to thrive on, and that God desired that all life must be cherished.

The theology of God’s total sufficiency is not a New Testament phenomenon but is as old as the Old Testament.

In Genesis, God created all life, vegetation, oceans, and creatures that dwelled in those oceans and it was good, according to the Hebrew texts. The word good also means there was not just enough, but God created plenty.

When the people of Israel were liberated from bondage in Egypt, God provided manna in the morning and quail at night for the people’s sustenance. The curious insight is that God would only allow the manna/bread to last for one day.

The reason is that God would create more bread each day, which then communicated to the people that God would provide for them, and make sure every day the people not only had bread, but fresh bread. The meaning and message of the story is that God desires everyone not only have enough, but have plenty of the best God has to offer.

There’s also a scripture that says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness therefore…” In other words, God has created more than enough for everyone to be satisfied.

It is important for people to understand they have been manipulated into a theological belief that is not a theology that honors God when we see only scarcity.

The theology of scarcity creates low expectations in people. A theology of God’s sufficiency conjures up limitless expectations because of the boundless provisions of God.

A theology of sufficiency also helps people ask the right questions and make the right demands of those elected to bring resources to their communities.

A theology of God’s total sufficiency also helps alleviate fears that cause people to compete, contend and have conflict with one another over a false belief in scarcity but actually helps people cooperate with one another to create whole communities of people with great expectations of life.

Finally, a theology of sufficiency helps to diminish the worship of rich celebrities and high-profile people in society. Only in a society of scarcity do people revere and venerate others who have amassed great sums of wealth at the expense of poor people whose labor produced that wealth but who never get to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.

When everyone has plenty because God has created more than enough, there is no need to idolize, revere and become envious of people with absurd amounts of wealth because one already has enough of what he needs. A theology of sufficiency is actually the making of a healthy and whole society.

Theology matters, and Pentecost Sunday is an example of the theology of God’s sufficiency becoming the theology of the people and thus sustaining an entire community of believers, as everyone had more than enough of whatever was needed.!!





Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson Sr.

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.” Contact the church by email at [email protected] or by phone at 219-944-0500.

Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. John E. Jackson
Senior Pastor at | + posts

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”

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