Friday, May 14, 2010

Scarcity (6) - God’s Abundance

Although the concept of scarcity makes from the perspective of economics, and although I disagree with the political approach of Jim Wallis, I have some sympathy with his thoughts on scarcity and abundance. During the last few centuries, the western world has experienced a massive increase in income and wealth. A number of thing have made this prosperity possible,

  • Increased specialisation and division of labour

  • Expanded trade and globalisation

  • Huge accumulation of capital

  • Massive technological advances

  • Relatively stable legal systems

These factors have combined together to produce previously unknown prosperity. Many people in Jesus times really worried about how they would gather enough food to survive for one more day (Matt 6:31). In the modern world, most people do not have to worry about where their food and clothing will come from.

What is surprising is that this substantial prosperity has not increased contentment. As people have gained more they want even more. Compared to the past, we seem to have a massive abundance, but most people are still dissatisfied and want even more.

An even stranger thing is that Christians are no different. Jim Wallis is right to put his finger on this disconnect. It does not undermine the foundation of economics, but it does show that something is wrong with the way that Christians understand the world.

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