I have a vision that has been creeping up and recurring in my imagination. It happened again the other day when I was at the store, either looking at some of the headlines about the economy, or processing soundbites from recent political conventions. Either way, I was thinking about potential hard times ahead, and it struck me that the Church does not need to be victim to whatever circumstances lay before us. Jesus took two fish and five loaves and fed five thousand, and he said that we, his body, would do greater things than him. Out of this, I imagined the Church being a place where common boundaries are broken, and people are reaching across family lines, and they are genuinely providing for one another’s needs, each giving as he is able, and everyone is covered.
How does this work? I have two guesses. First, I imagine that God has established a principle of synergy into the very fabric of the Church’s being, so that when people share things in common, when they move beyond the boundary of their immediate family toward caring about the whole family of God, they find that the total provision is more than the sum of its parts, that in the Kingdom of God 1+1 does not equal 2, but instead it equals 3 or 4 or 5. As good as this idea is, however, I prefer my second guess, which is the miracle of God’s presence. This kind of miracle is not the product of a distant God intervening in natural human affairs, but rather the work of God’s Spirit who both inspires people to move beyond their norms and who blesses the fruit of their labor with a hundredfold return. This is where the provision that normally covers one family multiplies beyond all natural boundaries and explanations toward the covering of thousands. This is a supernatural witness that boldly proclaims that Jesus is resurrected and living among his people in the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, this is the vision. I don’t know it experientially and I am not sure if it is orthodox. What I do know is that it is frightening. What if God doesn’t show up to multiply our provisions, what if my brother or sister in Christ doesn’t throw into the pot as I have. What will God require of me to make this vision a reality. Does this imply some kind of communal existence? I am not sure. I am just thinking that it’s not cool when middle class Xians, for all their moralizing, look and live like every other middle class family. I am just wondering how my present manner of living is keeping me from the fullness of life that God intends to give all who claim Jesus’ name.