Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Marks of a Church: Economy of Sharing

In addition to welcoming the outcasts into its community, the church acts as giving participants to each other as well as to those in need. A healthy ecclesiology considers the facet of liberating individuals from bondage, whether sin or destitution. Where a community offers assistance in equal measures to the whole body, it strengthens the body to promote peace and unity. Furthermore, God anticipates the church to infiltrate a poverty-stricken, power-welding world and exemplify a different economics among their ranks. During the birth of the early church, disciples lived among an economy of sharing and hospitality. Food, funds and property were all shared comprehensively among the disciples. Similarly in St. Benedict’s monastery, the monks presumed all as common possession and nothing as their own. In Martin Luther’s mind the community was shaped not by ownership, but by the form of sacrificial servanthood. Once an ecclesiology grasps the magnitude of sharing, the church becomes a catalyst for healing hunger and poverty in our world. “The problem [in the world],” stated Clarance Jordan, “is not supply but in distribution, not with God but with us.” After the church learns to share with each other, they in turn distribute their possessions to those outside in need. Dorothy Day’s view of economy of the church was based on human need, not on profit motive. Jesus’ mandate of feeding the poor, housing the homeless, visiting the prisoners, clothing the naked, and tending to strangers becomes a reality of the church’s life. The church must ask itself if its priorities lie in being accurate on all doctrinal matters, or in James words, caring for the widows and orphans. After the development of selfless sharing takes precedence in the community, members recognize their equality in face of society’s social structure. For David Lipscomb the church embraces “all people, all nations, kindreds and tribes and [seeks] to mingle and mould them into one universal brotherhood.” All are considered equivalent in light of Jesus’ treatment to those in ancient Israel.