Hey, this is John Ortberg. I’m very excited about what I have to talk with you about. I wanna talk to you about, um, abundance and order. And have you think about them in your life? Abundance has to do with this overflow of energy and vitality and aliveness. I just had the shift is stand because where I was talking to you before there was a dog that heard me talking and thought he was invited into the conversation. And so there was no order, but there was a lot of, um, abundance of vitality in life. And, um, so hopefully where I am right now. Well, we just right amount of both of those. I’m very indebted for this to a good friend, Andy crouch, if you’ve ever read Andy’s book, particularly on culture making, he gets into talking about these two forces and that the reason that we need them so much in our lives is that they were the basic tools that were present in the hand of God at the time of creation.
And, um, you can see, uh, at the very beginning in Genesis when there is just nothing but chaos, uh, the earth was formless and void and then God begins to bring order. And the first three days of creation are really about God ordering. And he does that by primarily by separating. He, he divides the light from the darkness and the earth from the sky and the dry land from the waters. And he is creating John Walton said on those first three days, um, time, day and night, and, um, weather, the water’s above the vault that will, um, rain and come down to the earth and then agriculture, um, uh, the capacity of plants that bear seeds and so on. And then on the next three days, days, four, five, and six of creation, we see an infusion of abundance and vitality. So on the fourth day, God creates the sun and the moon, not deeds to be worship like in the rest of the near east, but objects of God’s creation, but not just the sun of the moon in the skies.
He feels it with stars and not just a few stars, uh, pre-modern could look at an unlit sky at night and see thousands of stars. We now know my friend, Bob king tells me, hi, Bob, hi Dotty, that there are billions, not of stars, billions of galaxies, each one of which may have billions of stars. Bob says there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand, uh, in the earth. So there’s tremendous abundance. And then on the next day, God says, let the water team with living creatures and Andy notes. That word team is a word of abundance. Teaming is, um, uh, not an orderly tidy word. It’s all over the place. It’s unpredictable. It’s, profu, it’s exciting. And then on the final day, he creates, uh, among other creatures human beings in his own image. And we are to bring the same gift of abundance and order to life to bring it out of cast.
Now, Andy loves two by two little charts and he notes that we can think about these two forces, these two dynamics, uh, abundance and order as a two by two chart, you can have, uh, lots of abundance or no abundance, and you can have order, or you can have no order. So we might think about it as, uh, for quadrants like this. I’ll try to hold them up. This is a very, uh, carefully designed graphic. If somebody knows how to make this kind of stuff and can add this into the video, that would be very cool. But if you have no order and no abundance, then you have nothing. And that’s where, uh, the book of Genesis starts on the other hand, if you have, uh, lots of abundance, but you have no order at all, then you have chaos. That might be the bedroom of a teenager.
You can think of all kinds of examples, where it is lots of abundance, but no chaos, um, or, uh, yet another option. Uh, you might have all order, but no abundance. And then you have a machine and Annie notes, how a few centuries ago, under Newtonian physics, people thought that the universe functioned like a machine. It was like a giant clock and everything was utterly predictable. There were real tiny little things called atoms. And we knew exactly how they worked. And now my son who’s getting his PhD in physics tells me that the universe itself is nothing like that. That built into the heart of it. Somehow is something called indeterminacy. And at the quantum level of physics, there is stuff going on that is impossible by its own nature to predict so that the universe itself is not like a giant machine at all.
It is bubbling with, um, possibility and opportunity. And yet all of that is arranged in such a way that there is also this amazing, wonderful order and time and weather. And so, so when you have, uh, lots of abundance and lots of order, and they’re mixed together in the right way, then you have shaone, that is flourishing, that is wellbeing. And that is God’s intent for his world. And I was thinking about how, uh, these two forces of abundance, vitality overflowing, and then order play out in scripture. Uh, two favorite words reflect this. Paul often uses the word Paris shoe ain, which meant to overflow. And that’s a picture of abundance. And he’s talking about how God’s grace overflows or God’s goodness overflows or his gratitude or his joy overflow, tremendous vitality, unpredictable just keeps bursting out. You can’t contain it. And at the same time, new Testament writers talk about how in the beginning was the word, the logos, and it ordered all of things and it brought meaning and functionality to creation.
Um, one of the ways that you can think about sin is when there is a lack either of abundance or a lack of order, we will often talk about sins being sins of commission or sins of omission, sense of co mission greed, lust, glut. So when there is too much abundance, but not enough order to regulate things or sins of omission, lovelessness joylessness or sins of omission where there’s not enough abundance, not enough vitality, not enough life. And it’s interesting that often we mistake spirituality or spiritual maturity for an excess of orderlies that orderliness and a lack of abundance, but lovelessness in Jesus eye may be the most serious sins of all. Now at the same time, we might think then about spiritual life and in particular, the practice of certain spiritual disciplines along these same lines of order and abundance, Dallas Willard used to say that the simplest way to categorize spiritual practices, there’s a, um, activities that I engage in to receive power from God to be changed so that I can do what I don’t do today.
He says, we might think about those as activities, disciplines, practices of engagement or of abstinence engagement is when I, uh, act inactivity take on activities that I normally would not do. So I celebrate or I worship or I fellowship, or I study now, those are activities that increase abundance in my life. Um, and so they counteract sins of omission, where there is a lack of abundance in my life, or on the other hand I might engage in are, you’re still with me practices of abstinence. And that is why I refrain from doing stuff that I might normally do. So solitude, I refrain from engaging in relational activity with other people, silence. I, I refrain from noise and talking, fasting and so on. And I do these things to bring greater order in my life when there had been a lack of order.
And of course, all of us have aptitude or longing for, uh, either of those things, depending on our temperament, I was thinking about with Myers Briggs, uh, as you might know, one of the ways that we divide folks up is you might be Jay judging. Those are people who love to bring order precision planning, nail down details, or you might be a P spontaneous. You love for things to be unpredictable for the that’s on the abundance side. So we’re all wired in a certain way where we bring a certain natural level of giftedness to this, but we have a certain need for things that will not come naturally to us. So the question in all of this for you today is do you need in your life more abundance today, more vitality, more energy, more creativity, more innovation, more unpredictability, or would you benefit today by having some more order by making a plan by committing yourself to something I was reflecting this morning on last night, Nancy was gone.
And so last night I just veg out in front of a television set with peanut butter and honey sandwich and not the worst sin in the world, but by the end of the evening, when I woke up this morning, I was not filled with life or vitality because I didn’t really have good order last night. And so I thought I wanna try to order my day to day in a better way, especially as I’m on my own and ask God, could you help me to know, uh, how can I invest my time in my activities in ways that will fill me up? See the purpose of order is so that we can better experience abundance, vitality, life, energy, and what gives meaning to life, energy and vitality. It is when it is ordered by the word so that it can be offered to God and other people in love and fruitfulness. So there it is. Life is all about abundance. You might think about the country of Italy on that one. And abundance made fruitful through order. You might think about Switzerland, where we go to get watches or trains that run on time. Where do you need that today? Where could you lose, use a little abundance or a little more order and, uh, make that decision, uh, arrange your life around that today. And I will see you next time.