Whatever our day job, we are all contributors to health of this Body called Mission Hills, our neighborhoods, and city. So as followers of Christ, we learn to identify needs, opportunities, and resources in our lives.
Good business comes from a good community. And the way we create good community is when everyone contributes in their own sustaining way. This is what it means to be One Body.
It's interesting the word we use for economy, in Greek 'Oikos', translates 'house or household'. In God's eyes, this economy was based on the simple belief that the people we’re in business with aren’t out to get us. Each generates something and each contributes something as part of the larger economy.
AND, we all need what the other has. If one accumulates too much at the expense of another then this person is going to feel it and it’s not working right.
Good business is actually an ancient, sacred act. Ideally, it’s based on a belief that everyone has everything they need at a fair price with accessibility and built on trust. This is why we feel somehow violated when certain events gauge on pricing and prohibit bringing in your own food and drink.
God’s economy is not just giving away to people who don’t have. A healthy economy is more than reshuffling the resources. A barter economy is built on the ability to generate resources that bring greater benefit to more people.
At a recent gathering, we illustrated God's intent for business and care by creating our own economy. With six volunteers seated around a table, each were given elements of a cookie recipe (minus egg, milk, vanilla. I want to illustrate this by creating a simplistic barter economy model. In order to make the batch, all the elements are needed but at what price? Here were a few observation that also shape our understanding of how the church functions at its best.
- People give unevenly to benefit from the same thing. Some have to give more make it happen. But it doesn’t mean for the one who gives more, enjoys it more.
- When functioning well, we’re interdependent. Independence is everyone for themselves, which makes for a good competitive market, except there’s always a winner and a loser. Dependence is not taking enough responsibility, fine when you’re a child.
- Everyone brings something to the table – some big (like 3 cups of flour) some small (like a teaspoon of salt) but each significant.
The larger picture is empowering people, where everyone has enough, and where there is trust and balance. It might mean less profit and higher wages in order to promote generosity. It might mean extra time with students or patients and we don’t watch the clock. The shift is from “my time”/company time to “God’s time”. We ask, “Whom can I bless?”
The only way the economy works is for people to give and contribute… AS AN OFFERING TO GOD. We are all parts on One Body. And all the parts are needed for mutual benefit.