Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

The Economics of Neighborly Love BOOK CLUB

The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community’s Compassion and Capacity is the new book by Tom Nelson, author of the excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. Why not consider reading along with us? Download The Economics of Neighborly Love Study Guide from Made to Flourish. …

We open our study by looking at the Introduction:

  • I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but I began to grasp on a personal level that economic flourishing and human flourishing were intricately connected.
  • Growing up I was puzzled as to why so many in our church didn’t seem to care about our family’s economic stresses and vulnerabilities. Was it a lack of compassion? A lack of capacity? Or was it something different altogether?
  • Each day I woke up in an economic world, yet the Christian faith I was taught seemed to have little to say about it.
  • In my professional education for pastoral ministry, I do not recall any serious discussion about economics or its connection to faith or to the local church.
  • Operating out of an impoverished biblical theology and pastoral paradigm, I had been spending the majority of my time equipping the congregation I served for the minority of their lives. I had to call it what it was: malpractice. This pastoral malpractice was impoverishing our congregation in its spiritual formation and gospel mission.
  • Pastors and Christian leaders in all vocations are called to care for the vulnerable and to seek the flourishing of every image bearer of God.
  • From my pastoral perspective, far too little has been written or taught to the rising generation of leaders about how theology and economics seamlessly intersect. The glaring irony is that Holy Scripture speaks a good deal about economic flourishing.
  • What does the Bible say about economics? What does a life of fruitfulness look like? What role do Christian leaders have in nurturing the economic well-being of their congregations and organizations? What about the well-being of the cities where they minister and serve?

Chapter 1: Neighborly Love

  • The everyday world we live in is an economic world. Daily we are confronted with global economic realities that impact us in a myriad of stress-filled ways.
  • The heartfelt concern I hear from so many people is not merely, “Does my work matter?”, but also, “Is there meaningful work for me to do?”
  • Our lack of thoughtful engagement in the economic challenges of our world is in part due to an impoverished understanding of Jesus’ teaching on the Great Commandment. Could it be we are overlooking something very important?
  • Jesus teaches us that neighborly love speaks into the collaborative work we do every day. He insists that our neighborly love should fuel economic flourishing.
  • A neighbor, properly understood, is a fellow image bearer of God, a member of the family of humanity.
  • Embedded in Jesus’ parable in an intentional contrast between the economic justice perpetuated by the robbers, who wrongly take what is not theirs, and the economic goodness demonstrated by the Samaritan, who generously gives what is rightfully his.
  • Loving our neighbor in need involves both Christian compassion and economic capacity.
  • Properly understood, neighborly love calls for truth, grace, and mercy to put on economic hands and feet.
  • The Samaritan was motivated by heartfelt compassion, but he was also able to engage in loving action because he had the economic capacity to do so.
  • Compassion needs capacity if we are to care well for our neighbors.
  • The gospel not only addresses our greatest impoverishment, which is spiritual impoverishment resulting from our ruptured relationship with God, but also empowers us to address economic impoverishment in neighborly love.
  • A primary way God designed us to love our neighbors is for us to do our work well, and from our work to have the capacity to be generous to neighbors as well.
  • If we have compassion without capacity, we have human frustration. If we have capacity without compassion, we have human alienation. If we have compassion and capacity, we have human transformation. We have neighborly love.
  • The Great Commandment challenges us to better connect Sunday to Monday, not only by nurturing compassionate hearts but also by growing in our economic capacity. And economic capacity does not appear out of thin air. It comes from our faithful vocational stewardship.
  • If we are going to embrace neighborly love, we will have to take the initiative to move out of the comfort zone of our cultural and geographic insularity and get to know our neighbors as people who, like us, have an unique history, have felt the pain of heartache, harbor unfulfilled dreams, and possess underutilized talents and future aspirations.
  • You cannot help your neighbor well if you do not understand economics well, because human flourishing and economic flourishing go hand in hand.
  • An important aspect of being an image bearer of God is to work and to create value by serving others within our collaborative economic system.
  • We are called to be agents of redemption, doing good work as an act of worship, while seeking to further the common good.
  • Doing our work well matters to God and to our neighbor. The best workers make for the best neighbors.

Chapter 2:  Made to Flourish

  • It is in the relationships we make and the work we do that meaning greets us. No matter our age, education, ethnicity, or gender, we long to contribute, to accomplish things, to make a difference, to live a flourishing life.
  • Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came to our sin-ravaged planet so that we might flourish in all dimensions of our human existence.
  • The measure of our neighborly love is not only seen in our ever-increasing Christlike character, but also in our outpouring of Christlike compassion and productive capacity for the good of our neighbors.
  • When we look back at God’s original design for human flourishing, we discover we were created for a vibrant life of responsible creativity, innovation, and productivity.
  • Human flourishing is first and foremost a flourishing of relationships—our relationship with God and with others. But human flourishing is also a product of fruitful work that reflects our God who works.
  • No matter our age, God created us to be creative, to serve others, and to work.
  • To minimize our unique creativity is to diminish the God who designed us in his image. Each one of us has the capacity to be creative and to reflect God with our creative output.
  • We were created to be creative, and we are also called to fruitfulness.
  • If we take the time to understand the cultural mandate, we see being fruitful means more than simply having children; it also speaks to productive human work.
  • Whether our work is paid or not paid, our work is to glorify God, honor others, and add value to their lives.
  • Looking through the lens of Holy Scripture, human work must be seen first and foremost as value contribution, not economic compensation.
  • Fruitfulness means adding value and bestowing honor to others in and through our work.
  • We may retire from our paycheck, but we never retire from work. We never retire from the privilege and responsibility of neighborly love.
  • We are not to worship our work, but our work is a vital aspect of our worship