Generosity As The Story of God Part 4

generosity

What did Jesus say?

Read: Matthew 6:19-21, 24-33 and Mark 10:17-22

When Jesus told the man to share, he said it with love. God tells us to share the way we teach our children to share with one another and the world – with love.

Spend a few quiet moments remembering a time that you had to trust that there would be “enough” in order to share with others.

The early church: How did the Body of Christ – the church – organize itself and live out the gospel?  The early church organized itself around sharing, and experienced its life transformed.

Read: Acts 2:43-47

Reflection question: How does such an image for the life of the church – and for society – sound to most of us in the church in North America today?

Read: 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15

Footnote from the New Oxford Study Bible: “A fair balance or equality is stressed. ‘Your abundance’ suggests that the Corinthian church was in better economic condition than some of Paul’s other churches….”

Again, Walter Brueggemann: “In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul directs a stewardship campaign for the early church and presents Jesus as the new economist….Paul ends his stewardship letter by quoting Exodus 16:  ‘And the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.’ The citation is from the story of the manna that transformed the wilderness into abundancy.”

Reflection question: How do you think Jesus would fit in at a meeting of economists today?

An Invitation to Ongoing Reflection

The situation we find ourselves in today:

  • A wealthy but struggling nation, a wealthy but struggling church.
  • A world that has many more people much worse off than we are: the problem of poverty persists: where is that “fair balance”?

The changes in our culture that caused this have been happening for a long time – more of us are feeling them in this economic crisis, and for many the results are intensified.

In one way or another, every crisis is a blessing: will we “remember, trust, and share”?

Today, many scholars recognize that the church in many ways has been marginalized, even exiled, and like ancient Israel always living in the shadow of one empire or another: Egypt, Babylon, Rome.  From the margins, people of faith struggle to be heard above the din of the empires of materialism, militarism, globalization, corporate greed, and incessant electronic noise.

Walter Brueggemann on scarcity v. abundance:

“The myth of scarcity both produces and justifies violence against the neighbor….[It] will never generate ‘bread for the world,’ but only bread for us and for ours….

“The claim of creation faith is that there is more than enough to share, and where there is sharing there is generativity of more, because as the fruitful instruments of creation notice the shalom of God enacted as sharing, they do in fact produce more.”

Justice as shalom – as the fullness of good for all of God’s children, that is, not just enough for everyone, but an abundance (not an excess for a few) of healing, wholeness, peace: remember, trust, and share.

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