(or, “Another Tribute To The Infinite”)
So our church is going through what our administration is calling decentralization. So far this is looking like each service, or each time slot every Sunday here in Baguio, is converting to standalone churches, with their own lead pastors, council and congregation.
Two, no, three things I have in mind right now:
- If we are to follow the ideals of decentralization, or at least my perspective, or how I think decentralization should look like, we shouldn’t just be helping the administration by way of a cut in our collections – that would keep the administration central. If we were really to practice decentralizing, then each ‘node’, or each service, or each church should allocate even distribution of resources (after looking after their own needs, but I’ll get to that later) to every other ‘node’ in the network.
- All right, if we were totally rigid about it then that’ll sound more ideal than practical. Besides, I guess I stand corrected, as I go down the Word I depended on to back me up on my thoughts on this. It says in Acts 4:32-35: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.“
- This reads like there was still some sort of ‘central’ entity to do the distributing. BUT consider those verses, and Proverbs 3:27 (“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it“), as well as 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.“).
- Moving forward I believe that as the body of Christ we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning when to entrust resources to a ‘central’ authority, and just to be ready to share when we catch word of legitimate calls for help. If you want me to put a number on things I guess we ought to have 10% entrusted to the central authority for them to decide on, 10% set aside as in a tzedakah, or a collection ready to disburse when anyone needs anything, per approval of the council.
- This should challenge our theological perspectives. I used to say, we shouldn’t be singing the bridge of the famous song ‘Jesus At The Center’ as enthusiastically as we used to sing it – swap it, sing ‘From the Heavens to my heart’ instead of ‘From my heart to the Heavens’. Or hell (heaven?), sing one line, but understand that it works both ways. Now, I’m taking it even further; we can sing ‘Jesus At The Center’, but I’m being led to believe that Jesus is fully alive in every entity, that He is in what keeps us together and connected (or, the ‘cords’ in between nodes, if you will), JUST as much as He is in the Center. I was going to say it works both ways, but I don’t know, it works all ways, I guess.
- Take note, as we have discussed in the previous item, that decentralization is not superior over centralization, nor is centralization superior over decentralization. Just as we have resolved among ourselves to consider money as tools, so we see these concepts as tools – some will be more useful than others, yet it will all depend on the seasons and other things we wouldn’t be able to tell with our own understanding.
- With that said, we ought to be vigilant, always to remember and to appreciate as ministers in the Body of Christ, that it is Christ who takes precedence and priority over every resource, tool, and strategy in our disposal. We may have resources to distribute, tools and materials to make our functions easier and more efficient, and concepts and theories that have worked wonders from who we tune in to, now and in the past…. But Christ is the Life infinitely superior to our resources, Christ is the Way infinitely superior to our tools, and Christ is the Truth infinitely superior to the facts that we gather.
- I know I said Life, but it’s also important for us to consider that Christ is superior than any and all of these things mentioned because He is ALIVE, and therefore He is the Living Bread, the Bread of Life that is life to all we have. For some reason the first thing that comes to mind when considering the superiority of Christ over our tools is how He mentioned at one time that He is the Door – NONE of our tools would have any sort of eternal implications and impact without Christ being our Living Access first (look, if you have any other ideas here, I’m all ears). Finally, as I’ve been mentioning a lot recently, Christ is the Living Word, the Word of Life that is life to all that words that we have in mind.
- Again, not bashing how we sing ‘from my heart to the heavens’ – we are temples of the Holy Spirit after all, living praise lifting praises to God. It’s just that we would be doing ourselves a favor if we also rested by celebrating Christ who came to us, ‘from the heavens to my heart’. Also, Jesus is not only in the center, but in ALL. All aspects of our being, and all aspects of the body of Christ HAVE Christ in full. Kind of opens your eyes to what Paul really meant when he was exhorting about how deep, how wide, how long, and how high Christ’s love is for us, doesn’t it?
- Before we make any moves to ‘decentralize’ our services, perhaps we ought to work on our own autonomy. Are we able to stand on our own in this world? Can we provide for ourselves before we are able to provide for others? Can we stand, before we are able to help others to stand? Before we share power, provisions, and position, are we in a state which allows us to stand, ourselves?
- Ironically, I realized only after going through these questions after leaving it alone for a moment that we would never know the answer to this through self-assessment. In other words, the only way we know if we are able to stand strong enough to help others, is when we help others. I’ll be honest, I’m sharing that in conflict, because I used self-improvement as an excuse to isolate myself (okay part of it was the ridiculous increase in gas), but now I cannot avoid a certain glaring truth – we help ourselves best when we help others. Christ certainly lay everything down for all of us, and in the end everyone won.
- Or, I don’t know. Since the second half of February I’ve been putting some effort into investments, thinking that I wanted to stand on my own before I would help others stand financially. I guess what I’m trying to point out here is the same running idea that seems to be popping up out of all this: that is, there will be times that you help yourself best by helping others, and there will be other times that you help others by helping yourself first.
An absolutely decentralized network will not work. Nor will an absolutely centralized system. There are times one scheme works over another one.
On an individual level, you will burn out rather quickly by focusing solely on helping others, and you will explode if you focus solely on helping yourself. There are times one approach works over another one.
Finally, any system that is fully dependent on the newest tools, methods and strategies is bound to fail, given enough time and pressure. To impose absolutes over finite creations will fail. No, you impose percentages over the finite, but you impose absolutes, or in other words you would place your full trust in the infinite.
Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life.
Christ, in everything.
That needed to be settled before anything else. I mean, just to acknowledge Christ as absolute is to say that He is the Rock in whom we stand, the firm foundation upon which every other thing shall be built upon. We acknowledge Him in all our ways, we celebrate how He truly is with us in all things, and surely our paths shall be established.
Words like decentralization and autonomy have been playing in my mind as of late. To be honest I do like the idea of being autonomous. I like the idea of not being fully dependent on a central structure. I like to be able to stand alone – the way I see it, it isn’t to disrespect those who are opposed to it, but to be able to stand on my own actually respects them, if you think about it.
You can say that I’ve started working on it ever since the second half of February. I think being sick to the point of seriously questioning my mortality had me thinking (that is, as soon as the pain allowed me to think), have I done what I could do for those under the same household as me to be able to stand, in case of the expiry of my physical body? More importantly, am I doing the best that I can to stand up for my future wife and (3) kids?
I’m a whole lot better now, and the best I can say in response is that I’m still working on answering that question. As mentioned earlier I have been working on setting up sources of wealth that, if proven not to be scams, would eventually stand on their own, and then work together to establish higher performance in existing systems, and/or new, higher level sources of wealth. In the process of moving capital from one venture to another I’ve learned not to be easily swayed by what you read, hear or watch, and, even in the individual level – actually, especially in the individual level, we would do well to find the bounce in our step with Christ as the foundation, the Beginning and End in even our personal plans.
(to be continued)