Continuing the Party - Pastor Jerry Carter - November 14, 2018

When we think about our time, or our money, our talents, or even our lives, our natural inclination will always lean to a scarcity model.“I don’t have that much, and if I share it with you, I won’t have any left…”

Specific to Richland Nazarene this model plays out in our decision to tithe or not, to serve or not, to participate in a class or life group or not, to pray or not, to share our faith or not.

In business speak each is an investment or a hope in things unseen. In Christianese it’s called faith.

For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

In John 6, we have the feeding of five thousand. Understanding that with John, there are nearly always two meanings, physical and spiritual, Christian theologians have long posited the miracle was relational as much as it was physical.

Consider that each adult male would have had a pouch-like basket around the waist holding enough food for his family on a day out listening to traveling preachers. Apparently they had been out a bit longer than anticipated. Jesus and the disciples now had two choices; send them home or pool the resources to extend the party.

Enter a small child with the fish and bread his mama had given him that morning. Can you imagine the shame and embarrassment of every man in the crowd when by simple faith and generosity a small child offers to feed five thousand people? Funny if it weren’t so sad because each man in the crowd knew they still had enough in their travel satchels to also share.

Business writer Seth Godin calls what happened next the magnetic generosity of the network effect. I still call it a miracle as each man discovers he just might have enough to share and does. Call it the first potluck if you like but it was a miracle none the less.

Seth writes that if you share a pizza with a large crowd, no one will be very satisfied. But if you share an idea with a group, it creates cultural impact and becomes more valuable as it spreads, not less. The tragic fires in California and the communities’ response proves this principle to be true in material goods (pizza) as well.

Most of the time, we adopt the scarcity model of pizza. But in fact, the useful parts of our life are better characterized as, “If I share it with you, we’ll both have it.”

An idea shared is more powerful than one that’s hidden. A technology standard outperforms a proprietary one. A community is stronger than divided individuals ever could be.

When we give away our time, or our money, our talents, or even our lives, by building the network or the community around us, we’re not giving it away at all. The party just gets better for everybody!