Got a call from Samwise Gamgee....
I spent a little time on the phone last night with an encouraging friend. Yes, those last two words ought to be synonymous, but we've all probably known differently at times in our life. Anyway, thanks for the call, friend. I'll check the blueprint. :)
This morning I'm in Philippians 1...reading this passage for what seems like the first time. Maybe it's in light of the encouragement I got last night, I don't know, but I am just so aware of Paul's affection for the church in Philippi. The first chapter is a note from a father, telling of his warm feelings for them and giving them a frank assesment of his situation...that he is facing possible death but can see how, in the grand scheme of things, even that could serve the purposes of God. Paul must be dead serious - even Zig Ziglar couldn't sell that idea without believing in it.
Some specific verses that stuck out to me...
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
The word 'partnership' relates to the Greek work 'koinonia', which, true to Greek form, has a number of facets in meaning. With what little I know of the study of Greek (very little!), English seems rediculously simplistic. One of the facets of koinonia or partnership is a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship.
Ever since seeing Renee Roberts' Gifting It, I've done a fair amount of reading on the concept of gifts in culture. At Renee's recommendation I read Lewis Hyde's The Gift.
While there is no indication in the book that Hyde is a follower of Christ, he does share some fascinating thoughts on giving. Hyde relays that tribal people around the world have a very congruent concept of the value of a gift - they never consider it personal capital. In other words, when a tribal member receives a gift, they never consider using it for their own benefit. In a real sense, the gift he receives is not his. A tribal chief who receives a goat would never add it to his flock...he'd find a widow who needed it or roast it for the entire tribe. The widow, in tribal fashion, would give away a portion of the milk. The gift belongs to no one, yet the belongs to all.
Veiwing participation in the gospel - koinonia - as a joint gift stirs in me even deeper thoughts of community. What are you doing today with The Gift. What role are you playing in the grand drama of participation in the Gospel of Christ. True community means a conductive flow of The Gift - when we say grace and peace to you, we really do exchange grace and grant peace. In the words of the Patron Saint of File Swapping, thanks for sharing. :)
In a slighty-related train of thought - here's another Lewisism for you to bend your noggin around. He is speaking to the broad sense of selling endulgences...not exclusively the practice of the middle ages, but the tendency for people to try and trade their way into faith:
The point is that a conversion, in the general sense, cannot be settled on ahead of time. We can't predict the fruits of our labor; we can't even know if we'll really go through with it. Gratitude requires an unpaid debt, and we will be motivated to proceed only so long as the debt is felt. If we stop feeling indebted, we quit, and rightly so. To sell a transformative gift therefore falsifies the relationship; it implies that the return gift has been made when in fact it can't be made until the transformation is finished. A prepaid fee suspends the weight of the gift and de-potentiates it as an agent of change. Therapies and spiritual systems delivered through the market will therefore tend to draw the energy required for conversion from an aversion to pain rather than from an attraction to a higher state.
Enjoy your gifts today as you were meant to. Give them away. Participate in the fellowship.