2 Corinthians 8:1-15 - Interconnected Community
Hugh MacKay in Australians Reimagined suggests that the increasing social fragmentation of our world is leading to epidemic levels of anxiety, both in the form of mental illness, and a more general anxiety that alters the way we connect with other people. This fear can cause us to hold tightly to what we have, or to those we feel most comfortable with, further fragmenting our culture.
In Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, he demonstrates a strongly interconnected community, willing to serve one another with all they have. The Macedonian church “pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in the service to the Lord’s people”, despite their own severe trials (v2-4). Paul asks the believers in the Corinthian church to demonstrate the same level of interconnectedness and interdependence. They are to use their current state of plenty to supply what others need, so that in turn when needed it would be supplied to them (v14). Paul’s desire is that others should not be in need but that there would be equality.
When we think of giving financially as a people, our temptation is to give the Old Testament standard of 10% and think that box is ticked, and we can spend the rest as we wish. Paul here is demonstrating the desire for interconnected communities who give so no one has need, both to the mission of God and to other communities of faith. If we earn plenty, then we need to give plenty. If we are struggling, we should be open to receiving from our brothers and sisters as God directs them. Perhaps we ought be radically generous to those around us, expressed individually but within 'community', with the result being there is no need to hold on to our own money for fear of ‘What if…’ *because we will know that in the ‘what if’, God’s people will be there.