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Acts of Charity
Acts of Service
Simple Living

I lump these together in this page because I do not, at this time, see anything particular about them that illuminates any aspect of Symbiosis.  At the same time, they are such necessary disciplines to perform that they must be done symbiotically if they are to be done properly and well. 

To start with, if you are reluctant to start practicing any of these disciplines, then some Variance Management might be of help.  This would be especially true for the disciplines of forgiveness, repentance, and helping one be content when striving to live simply.

Some, like tithing or striving to live simply, are usually engaged in as an act of desperation, when a situation is so bad that the practitioner has decided that there is no other alternative.  Divine Wisdom, guidance, and insight is usually required in situations like this to see how to proceed forward.  Stage 2 will introduce those methods that would allow the Holy Spirit to inject suggestions and ideas on what to do.  When it comes to living simply, the suggestions would be with how to make the personal changes necessary to be content with a smaller part of one's personal "pie" so that more of the pie can be allocated to tithing and acts of charitable giving.  The most radical aspect of Stage 2 is the generation of innovative thoughts and ideas that the recipient could use in the marketplace to improve one's financial situation, which acts to "make the pie bigger".

While it may sound heretical to some (especially those on the receiving end and those who manage the enterprise), one can perform tithing, living simply, acts of charity, and acts of service so recklessly, indiscriminately, and heedlessly, that both giver and recipient are harmed.  Divine wisdom, common sense, and some help from Stage 2 techniques to determine the right course of action is required to perform these disciplines wisely and constructively.

I will conclude this section, and this essay, by discussing this rather obvious fact: the way modern Christendom performs acts of Charity and Service does not follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is true that we should emulate the example of Jesus Christ to perform acts of charity and service.  What should be glaringly obvious is that Christians don't do it the way Jesus Christ did it.  Jesus fed the 5000 without the expenditure of millions of denarii to buy food and airlift it.  Jesus healed people without the benefit of hospitals, doctors, nurses, and modern technology, including diseases that those marvels of modernism still have not cured.  Jesus paid his and Peter's temple tax by having Peter catch a fish and pulling the money from its mouth.  When Jesus said "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father," was he telling the truth, or was he merely blowing smoke up our collective colons?  Did he say that with earnest intent, knowing the crushing needs of the people to whom he was sending them and us?  Or was he a con artist uttering a clever toss-off calculated to make the marks believe he was a generous and good fellow while falling into a swindle that would span centuries?  Or was he enthusiastically and sincerely wrong for writing a check that his Heavenly Father would not cover?  Or are the powers and resources of Providence so limited that when Ignatus and Polycarp tried to cash that check in, it came back marked "Insufficient Funds"?

I had intended to write here a confession that I was having trepidation about Stage 4, the return of these gifts and power of the Holy Spirit to the church.  I felt that I was "writing a check that God won't cash".  I had doubts that I could do as good a job in the essays because I would not be given the powers so that I could write from the position of one writing from personal experience.  If I am likened to a guide on a path, I could tell you where all the holes are, but would never help you get to the destination because I would keep falling into the holes.

Yet, a funny thing happened while I was writing my excuses: the Holy Spirit would do a stage 2 on me and throw up pointers that, when I followed them, did not lead to an acceptable excuse, but to a path to be followed with incredible possibilities.  I talked myself into realizing I wasn't trusting the Holy Spirit to use the Stage 2 techniques to help me through Stage 4.  While writing one version of an excuse that you will not read, I was led to put fasting into a separate section, looked up the verses, and realized that, if I ever got stuck in Stage 4, that fasting was a likely way out of the impasse.  The Holy Spirit brought to mind a recent revelation about God being humble that led me to relook at all the standard excuses in the light of the way humble people behave versus proud people, leading me to believe that Jesus was gravely serious when he made the promise that they (and we through them) would do greater works than he.  After all, when a humble person looks you in the eye and says "you can do it better than I can", they will usually say "yes" if you ask them to show you how.  They can, of course, be mistaken, but never intentionally devious.  I leave it to the reader to determine the implications of Jesus being mistaken.

Understand that my intent is not to avoid performing the spiritual disciplines of acts of charity and service by declaring "If we can't do it miraculously, then we shouldn't be doing it at all!"  To the Church's credit, they invented all the above mentioned institutions and imposed pressure on its own members to step up to the plate when the spiritual gifts originally powering the charity and service that Jesus and the apostles did evaporated.  My point is that these substitutes are really poor performers when compared to how effective the Powers of the Spirit were.  That should give us encouragement: if charity and service is really that important, then shouldn't God be pleased with any effort to make them be performed in a better and more efficient way?  Should not the desire to do these acts in a better way than Jesus did because we believe his promise that we would an added incentive for God to grant us success when we get to Phase 4?

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