RICH IN CHRIST 2 Peter 1: 1-11 (This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God)
A while ago, there was an article about the wealthiest beggars in India. Everyone on the list lived day after day on the street from alms in worn-out clothes. They ate leftover food and of what people on the road gave them. At night they searched for cartons and slept in the brutal cold and dangerous streets.
Meanwhile, they had bank accounts wit huge amounts of money and lots of properties.
• Bharat Jain, owns two luxury apartments, a large shop that he rented out every month.
• Sambhaji Kale, has an apartment, two houses, and a large piece of land that he rents out!
So, the article goes on to listing all the richest beggars.
Unfortunately, the article does not give the reasons why these millionaires lived like beggars. Isn’t it so as strange that they live in scarcity, amidst the abundance that they actually possess?
But before you laugh at their weird conduct, let’s consider how many people live their spiritual lives in the same why! Some Christians live daily like spiritual beggars while, in Christ, they are spiritual millionaires. They live as if there is a scarcity of spiritual gifts, so that they cannot live with courage, hope and flourishing lives. Times of hardship, challenges bring them down easily, feeling disconnected with spiritual resources. Even when things go well, they can’t live with gratitude, joy, celebration, and fulfillment.
On the one hand, it is true there can be extreme scarcity in in your financial situation, physical health, relationships, emotional wellbeing or cognitive function. And all people experience times with scarcity on many levels. That is true for all believers as well! But, does that mean we have to live with an attitude of spiritual scarcity? Isn’t it possible to be in extremely difficult circumstances of scarcity but be filled with spiritual abundance?
Consider the impact of living with spiritual scarcity that you are not loved enough, of having too little inner recourses to cope with the situation, not having peace, no freedom, not enough joy grace, forgiveness or hope? Imagine how it must be to be living with the perception that you are cut off or disconnected with God. This attitude of living in scarcity has a significant impact on one’s body, emotions, thoughts, and deeds! The more you live with a scarcity-mentality, the more anxiety, fear, conflict, despair, hopelessness, and unhappiness will appear. So, a scarcity-mentality in your spiritual life is deadening.
The Bible is full of texts that explain that we are rich in Christ:
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Revelation 2:9 in the Letter to the congregation in Smyrna: ” ‘I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich.!!!”
This has always been the plot of God’s involvement with mankind. It is a story in which God shares God’s gifts to humankind. Just remember the truly transformational gifts unlocked on Good Friday and at the awesome powerful gifts of the Resurrection, Ascension, and at the outpouring with the Spirit! Remember the gifts and fruit of the Spirit that all have received. John 10:10. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
The author of the Letter identifies himself as Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Peter probably died as martyr under Emperor Nero between 64-68 of the Common Era. The Letter was most likely written in Rome in the 60s (Babylon – 1 Peter 5:13) with the help of a secretary. In other words, it is much older than the Synoptic Gospels. It shows interesting signs of a testament written before you die: 2 Peter 1: 12-15. It seems like the author is close to his death! (Though, Calvin believed that Peter did not write the Letter but one of his followers due to language and style)
Peter’s letters were addressed to congregations in northern Asia Minor to strengthen them in the midst of suffering and hardship.
* Christians were experiencing many challenging times due to persecution by political forces and society.
* The suffering was not so much physical suffering, but spiritual suffering, slander, and hostility.
* Some have considered withdrawing from society.
* There was pressure due to economic and social discrimination. As a result, they were called “strangers” in the text.
Listen again to what this dying man says to people living in such challenging circumstances:
“May grace and peace be yours in abundance”(2)
“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness”(3)
“he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises(gifts)”(4)
“and may become participants in the divine nature.” (4)
“For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful” (8)
“For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” (11)
2 Peter 1 confirms that we have received abundance in Christ. Therefore, on a spiritual level, there is no scarcity but abundance!
We received spiritual treasure troves that are full of the gifts of precious faith(v1), grace and peace in abundance, Divine power, everything you need to live, the most precious and greatest gifts and wait for it … that we may become participants in the Divine Nature! Can you imagine greater wealth than that? All these were richly provided in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
AND yes, on our own, we are beggars and poor. “Poor in Spirit” means absolute dependency on God. On our own, we have none of the above gifts. We can only live life when we are connected to the Vine receiving the spiritual gifts! Then in Christ, we are rich!
So, the question is, how do you approach life? Every day… Are you reminding yourself the whole time that you don’t have enough resources? Or, are you keeping the eyes on Christ in whom we received spiritual riches! Of course, on our own we are thirsty and weak, but we can no longer just talk about ourselves in these terms. Yes we are vulnerable clay jars, but we have this extraordinary powerful treasure in us!!!! (2 Cor 4:7)
When Peter refers to our gifts, he is not using future tense. He is talking about what the believers have already received! The author uses past tense. It’s not something to earn or acquire. It has been given! “Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3)
You are a child of God through Christ. The Spirit lives in you now, there where you are! YOU ALREADY INHERITED ALL THAT JESUS ACQUIRED FOR YOU!
Yet, many times, we live as spiritual beggars with a scarcity mentality! If that is the case, there will be a few implications of this scarcity mentality:
– You think about yourself and your deepest identity as a spiritual beggar, poor and weak on a spiritual level, and forget that you are actually a child of God, Prophet, Priest, King!
– You just trying to survive, not thrive!
– All you think about is just yourself, so you cannot give something to others because you live with a scarcity-mentality!
– You always expect others to be your solution, others to solve your problems. Blame others for your situation. The solutions and answers can only come from outside …
– You compare yourself to the gifts of others and are jealous because you do not have them. This lifestyle leads to deep dissatisfaction. There is no gratitude for what you have received.
– One of the worst consequences of this attitude is anxiety and fear. Because you overlook your greatest gifts and God’s presence, you are anxious about everything! What if it happens or that?
– Living in this spiritual poverty, you become blind to the breathtaking beauty locked up in every day. Your inner darkness darkens your world.
– People fall into the rat races just to collect more and more possessions because, with that, I can reinforce the illusion that if my material possessions are abundant at least.
– There is an obsession with physicality and health: The exaggerated unhealthy obsession with Men’s health, Woman’s fashion, perfect body, gym culture, and photoshop” faces!
There is an emptiness in your deepest being that you try to fill with pleasure, stubbornness, or financial resources … but nothing can fill that emptiness as spiritual resources.
BUT DEAR Beloved, you are all rich! You are spiritual millionaires! Jesus acquired it all: a treasure chest full of gifts. The Spirit is the eternal fountain in you that unlocks the treasures of life! The Spirit is not near you; the Spirit is in you. Because you are in Christ. The Spirit is the Fountain of Life with unlimited abundance.
Sometimes we refer to someone is an inspiration! Or the person lives with enthusiasm!
The Word “inspiration” comes from the words: In – Spirit .. In the Spirit! That’s the Source!
Also, the word Enthusiasm: En -Theos. Enthusiastic is filled with God!
Anthony de Mello writes: Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death. They are brainwashed, ASLEEP by ideas about love, freedom, happiness, and so forth. These wrong ideas are influencing your life and making a mess of it. We are surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love – Awareness p26
What is true abundance? Not that everything is always going well in your life. Not “Prosperity” in a material sense. Not always being healthy. Even in the worst, most difficult situations, as this author awaiting his death… the resources of God are there and readily available.
We look at challenges and problems differently when you keep the abundant Gifts of the SPIRIT in mind. You do not just have to fight your circumstances but accept the situation with the acknowledgment that you have received the gifts to face them and make the most of it.
How do we live from what is given? How can I make the gifts part of my life now?
Firstly, we keep in mind that the gifts of the Spirit and the Spirit himself are not earned. These are “gifts”. It is given through grace. It does not require long prayers with special rituals or perfect lives. God asks for an empty hand that is open to receive His gifts!
Therefore, a core skill can help us develop our awareness of God’s Spirit in you and Jesus’ gifts to you, and then live from it with faith!
The Passage invites us to open up to the GIFTS by growing in goodness, faith, knowledge, self-control, endurance, Christian affection, and love in abundance, they will make you active and effective (V6-8)
How does a life Rich in Christ look like?
*It connects the reality of our life with God. Suffering, pain, suffering but also our joyous moments are connected to God.
*Finding your identity in God!
* Living in Spiritual Abundance, you can say yes to LIFE! People then live more awake: More aware of the moment, people, self, and God. The ordinary becomes extraordinary!
*It breaks free you from unhealthy thinking patterns that breaks you down; and fills your mind with inspiring, uplifting thoughts.
*You experience a meaningful life! Life motivated by LOVE, not fear!
*You open up to wonder, wonders, mystery!
*Because you are aware of the abundance you easily share the gifts with others.
* The Spirit is our core life force. Spirituality gives us the energy and vitality to live. Life-giving Spirituality leads us to fullness, wholeness, and integration.
* Live with the awareness that God is in you!! “SHARING THE DEVINE NATURE!!! V4
There is a story of people on sailboat that lost all their fresh water after a huge storm. People on the boat suffered greatly due to thirst. At one point, a ship appeared far on the horizon, and they sent Morse code signal: SOS Help we need fresh water. They receive the morse code answer from the ship: Just scoop up the water. They could not understand the message, so they sent the SOS again. And again, the answer came: Just scoop up the water drink. After the third time, one of the yacht’s crew members dared to taste the water. It was fresh water! In the sea! The Amazon River, the largest in the world flows so deep into the sea that there are miles of fresh water in the Atlantic Ocean! There was abundance around them without them knowing!
Beloved, you are spiritual millionaires, rich, in Christ! Go live out of the abundance! AMEN