The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has become the semi-Golden Rule, “Do what you choose to do as long as it doesn’t impinge upon someone else’s right to choose what they want to do.” (On Thinking Institutionally by Hugo Hechlo) Freedom and liberty are wonderful gifts, but they come with a cost we don’t often count. The cost comes in our corporate life, our shared life and what is called “the common good”. Freedom and liberty are wonderful gifts but unless they are mitigated by a concern for the “us”, they can fuel a me-centered, narcissistic culture.
It has become natural to think I can choose what and who has a claim on me, my time, my money, my energy. People stay away from groups that might lay claim to their loyalty and support. Religious groups, in an effort to get these people to walk through their doors, are careful to be “user-friendly”.
Next Wednesday, a group of leaders from institutions around the Inland Empire are gathering to consider how we think institutionally and live from our institutions for the sake of the greater common good. Institutions are thought to be an anachronism in today’s culture, but institutions continue to navigate much of our living: multi-national corporations, banking industry, government, medical industry, etc. It’s just that most people have absented themselves from the institutions that mitigate the pressures of life.
Members of our congregation are among the leaders attending this retreat of the Inland Empire Sponsoring Committee (OneLA). Our purpose is to build power so we can effectively address together the challenges we certainly face together as people living in the Inland Empire. The mission field is here; we are in the middle of it. The Inland Empire faces some of the highest unemployment rates and highest mortgage foreclosure rates in the nation. People are hurting deeply. They are our neighbors and friends. What can we do about it? Build the institutional power necessary to address the real threats we face.
The body of Christ belongs where there is need and hurt to bring the healing power of God. You belong to the body of Christ. Christ has a claim on you, your energy, time, and yes, money. Consider well the choices you do make in light of the claims on your life by the one you choose to follow.