God Wants Abundance and Life: A Biblical Reflection

No more shall there be in it
An infant that lives but a few days,
Or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
— Isaiah 65:20a-21

When the Scriptures talk about what human life looks like as God intends it, one thing is consistent: humans are flourishing. This flourishing is rooted in God, in whom "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28) and who is manifested in societies where those who are most vulnerable are cared for.

This world was created as a place where God's love and provision might be made manifest in tangible ways. The Scriptures provide many examples of how God repeatedly cares for people, not only through providing for their spiritual lives, but through sustaining their bodily needs as well.

God provides both salvation and nutrition through manna and quail in the desert (Exodus 16:13- 14). Through the ministry of Elijah, God sustains the widow of Zarephath with bread (1 Kings 17:7-16). Jesus states that he comes to bring life "abundantly" (John 10:10) and demonstrates the love of God through table fellowship with people on the margins of society. When crowds gather around him, Jesus teaches them about the kingdom of God and creates abundance from scarcity, feeding more than 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:41-42).

As the first Christians came together, their worship and community were centered on the gathering together around the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 27:35). They appointed deacons who were responsible for seeing that widows and orphans received the food they needed (Acts 4:32-35, 6:1-6).

As Christians today, we continue to serve people in need—our neighbors next door as well as those far from us as they struggle with hunger and poverty. As a wealthy nation, the United States responds to humanitarian emergencies with food aid, reaching millions of people around the world. Food aid provides nutrient-rich foods for adults, children, and babies who are in urgent need. However, our part in providing food should be guided by the wisdom of Scripture. Isaiah 65 speaks of life as God intends it. It is more than simply receiving good things.

Communion Received in Guatemala / Photo by Joe Molieri

It is also participating in creating a good life and a society that reflects God’s desire for abundant life. When communities take responsibility for the nourishment and prosperity of their members, they express God's ordained purpose.

In supporting reforms to U.S. food-assistance programs, we can mirror God’s intention for abundance and life. By engaging in this issue, we are participating in caring for our neighbors near and far but in ways that better reflect God’s desire that we all might build up our world to be a place where all are cared for and sustained.

Bread for the World
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