In his masterful book, Bowling Alone*, Robert D. Putnam mentions t-shirts printed by the Gold Beach, Oregon, Fire Department. The t-shirts advertised the annual fund raising Firefighters Breakfast. Across the front were the words "Come to our breakfast, we'll come to your fire."
Of course, no one in Gold Beach really worried that if they missed the Firefighters Breakfast that they might be putting their property in danger of burning down - it was a lighthearted poke at what Putnam calls general social reciprocity...the belief that people will work together in a time of crisis, even if they haven't cooperated well in times of lesser stress.
I've found that to be true. People rally around a cause, whether it be a house fire, a sick child or a devastating accident. When a member of a community is in real need, the community rises to the occasion. My question is 'what would a community look like if general social reciprocity became specific social reciprocity?...if people would learn to care for one another extravagantly even in good times?'
Seems to me it would look a little like what we read of in Philippians 2:6 & 7, where Paul admonishes us from a prison cell to emulate Christ, who was continually seeking for ways to serve. If the church could get ahold of that little snippet of truth - living as servants, 24/7/365 - it would revolutionize the face of the church to those who have rejected the church in the past. We might even find ourselves living in true community.
*if you have any interest in how groups of people think and have not yet read this book...get your head examined. And then get the book.