For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. Romans 15:27
On my way to my first AA meeting years ago, I was terribly nervous. This is apparently, a pretty common experience for anyone new to AA and those in attendance were purposeful at welcoming me. If I thought I was just going to sit in back and spectate though, I was mistaken. It was made clear, from my first or second meeting, that participation was the norm.
At the beginning of every meeting, the liturgical readings were passed around and though no one forced me to take one, it was just understood that everyone would read aloud eventually. There was an empty coffee can for donations sitting by the coffee pot. No one took my money, but it was expected that if you drank coffee, you gave something. When we broke into small discussion groups, we all said something. AA is not a spectator sport. If you go, you eventually participate in some way.
This seems to be similar to what Paul said in today’s passage. On his way to Jerusalem, he brought the monetary offerings of other believers with him. He said that financial assistance was owed by those who’ve been blessed spiritually. If they’ve received, they must give. Simply consuming or freeloading, wasn’t an option.
This is a far cry from our experience with church today. It’s not the church’s fault, but I could easily slip in and out without ever speaking to anyone. In the age of Covid-19, we don’t pass an offering plate and if I want, I can even spectate from my couch via my computer.
The problem with this of course – and this is what AA has figured out – is that no participation means no investment. If I’m sitting at home, watching church on my computer, it’s a small leap to have my TV on in the background, or even fall back asleep. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful that during covid-quarantine, we could watch church online, but honestly, it hasn’t been great for my participation or investment.
According to Paul, if we go to church and if we’ve been blessed, then we’re no longer spectators. We’re participants. We’re obligated to get involved. The church is made up of us and we must fulfill our role in the church so the church can fulfill its mission to the world. Being part of the Body of Christ is not a spectator sport.