Capitalism vs. Community

I totally get someone going into business for themselves, wanting to do things their way, be their own boss, and make a go of it. There is a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps vibe that can feel really good about going it alone to see if you can succeed, especially when you do.

But when it comes to Kingdom work, this mindset isn’t the best mode; in fact, most often it works against us.

I had a situation in the past year where I could have attempted to do a work in my own ministry on my own. But I knew a brother who was already doing a great work in that area. Here was the “problem.” If I ask to join him and help his already existing efforts, then it’s his name on the effort. If I raise funds for my part of the project, why shouldn’t they just go ahead and give to him? When the work is accomplished, it will look like he did it. (Just keepin’ it real.)

Let’s see. Where can I get some wise counsel on this one? If only there were some sort of example to follow …

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. —Philippians 2:3-7 NIV

So, there you go. “He made himself” what? “Nothing.” There’s a great line for a motivational speech, huh?

In business, we’re supposed to re-invent the wheel, trying to make a better wheel to take over the wheel market. That’s called capitalism.

But Christianity isn’t a form of capitalism. At least the Biblical version isn’t.

But in the Kingdom of God, if someone has already invented the wheel and is glorifying God with it, why not just help them make more wheels? That’s also a “C” word—community. Community is a vital part of Biblical Christianity.

This business of churches competing for members, ministries competing for donors, ministers competing for notoriety, not cooperating to justify our own existence, all this stuff just empowers the enemy and keeps the Kingdom from looking how it deserves to look today.

Here’s the deal: when we all line up in Heaven for rewards, it won’t be about the most people packed in a pew, the most dollars raised, the biggest building or budget, or the most Instagram followers. But it will be about if we fed, clothed, loved, and healed Jesus, Who is evidently covertly disguised today as the “least of these.” (Matthew 25)

The next time we’re tempted to go it alone or do what it takes to get our name on the plaque, let’s ask ourselves: “Who is this about?” And when our answer gets past our name, our reputation, our church, and our ministry, and finally gets around to Jesus, then let’s proceed.

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