Thoughts on Reciprocity

I get stuff in the mail.

Philanthropic requests, missions letters, alumni magazines.

And the copy typically reads something like this: "We (the haves) are graciously donating our time and/or money to those who don't (have nots). Want to give money to that?" Or, "we (the enlightened?) are going to fly to share truth with others(the ignorant?). Want to come along?"

It occurs to me this copy isn't very inspiring and works more on a guilt mechanism rather than a joy mechanism.

Are there any Biblical stories (outside of Jesus) of God working through someone who "had it together" to coach those "who needed to get it together?" More often, it seems that the heroes are flawed and God uses them in ways that change both events and the hero. (Reference Moses. Reference Jonah. Reference Sampson. Reference Peter.)

What if it works more like the Apostle Paul's writing of different gifts? Someone shares their gifts and the people receiving share theirs back. A sort of reciprocity.

I've started this blog post three times and find I'm not very articulate with this thought. So, I started looking for examples.

- What if parents who have children with Down's syndrome are gifted with relationships with some of the most beautiful souls on the planet? One gives care to those who can't care for themselves. The other gives sweetness in a world that is often without it. There is reciprocity.

- What if those with money who take shoes and tuition to orphans in Uganda, then receive joy from those children who have joy in buckets full? Reciprocity.

- What if those who go on short term missions trips to build bridges or ovens or provide medical care leave with understanding that changes their day-to-day lives back in the States? Reciprocity.

It seems that God never works with the flow being uni-directional. That He has the creativity to work things on multiple levels and that there is a principle at play of a giving and receiving that creates bi-directional flow. What if it isn't actually about us saving the world but about allowing ourselves to be open and to show up in unexpected places for God to work this type of exchange?

Everything in creation is designed with flow. Waterfalls that produce steady streams are fed by evaporation and rain. Plants give oxygen which we need and we produce CO2 which they need back. And I don't want to even think about the whole food, fertilizer, food process!

What if giving and receiving are core design? The way everything works?

I think if we truly understood this our copy would become less arrogant. It wouldn't portray the recipients as somehow less than those who are being asked to give. I think it is possible that the concept of reciprocity would also prevent the burnout that accompanies giving that doesn't produce return.

But more than all of that, I think we would be more willing to engage if we truly believed that giving was never designed to leave us with less, but with more.

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Maira Gall