Limits. It’s a word that is antithetical to our culture and times. On the right there is the notion of a world that is a vast frontier to be made in our image, for our comfort, for our adventures. Any notion of limit is likely an artificial construct of some pointy headed bureaucrat. On the left there is a notion of abundance, where the planet has more than enough for everyone. It’s not that there is a limit to what we might have, only that greed by some prevents abundance for all.
But isn’t creation telling us that whether the pie is equally sliced or divided up between 90% for the 1 percent and 10% for the rest of us or that the pie is for those who work the hardest and play by the rules that there simply isn’t enough of it to go around unless we limit how much we want? I grow weary of conversations about climate change, the economy or poverty that does not include some idea of limits.
As a person who believes in God I also think there are limits to the choices we make. I think we are fitted for some choices better than others. As my Doctrinal Studies professor used to say, “Some feel we have been given freedom from others while still more believe we have been given freedom for others.” The idea of our liberal age, that freedom is our great gift implies that the outcome of this freedom is of our own weighting. I would argue that the freedom implies a differentness on behalf of those who wish to heal, love, mend and not a freedom of outcomes, where we determine the moral imperative of our action.
I am a firm believer that there is a vast variety of gifts and beliefs that each of us can choose from to be the best we are. I believe in 1 Corinthians 12 that each of us is given different gifts to fulfill our own vocation, to be disciples in the way God made us. But I also believe in 1 Corinthians 13 that the purpose of these different gifts and ministries is love. And love is not a feeling as much as it is an expression of holy community, that when we love we make real in community what God has always intended; enough room for everyone, enough food for everyone and a Spirit of joy that brings us to a moment of everlasting love.
But I do not believe we can get to those moments without limits. When I sit and pray over the choices of time, places to be, energy to be shared, and resources to be given, I start with the assumption that a) there is a larger purpose to this task and b) there are limits to what I can give so I will need to prioritize. What is most important? What can I bring to that challenge? What joy will come from my limited offering?
Sorting through all parts of my life, lifting up that which I can share, finding the place to share it and being the best steward I can be with what I have been given are all necessary and uplifting assignments. While there may be no limit to God’s love there are limits on my human body and spirit that I need to take account of if I am going to be an effective and sustained disciple.