I rode home from SK today with Joe, a friend of mine who thinks good thoughts and would do well to have a blog but is basically computer-illiterate (or maybe computer-disinterested). He is living in community with some friends who are working their way out of their addictions. It's an inspiring thing.
Anyway, we were conversing and it is cool how dialogue can be so revelatory. We were struggling through some of the tough sayings of Jesus, noting how often he encouraged people to not save their money, but instead to give it away where there is need. We were getting into how the idea of tithing seems to be somewhat of a western convenience, because from what one can gather from Christ, his paradigm was more along the lines of "give away whatever you don't need". However, such an idea is pretty contrary to our "sound financial planning" culture, but this is where the epiphany occurred.
From what we could tell, you can go two routes with your "investments". One reinforces our separate and lonely individualism, while the other builds community and advances the kingdom. One route is to take care of yourself, and make sure you have enough money stored away to keep yourself comfortable and safe. On the other hand, you could take the risk to give where there is need, and trust that God will take care of you, even when your pockets are empty. Even without a supernatural provision of God, generosity can open up a natural "safety-net" whereby generosity begets generosity. Our example was a friend of ours who has been very generous to many around him. We were in strong agreement that were he ever to find himself penniless, we would be selling stuff to make sure he was provided for. He has made his "investment" in us, and, in the economy of God, it's true what Jesus said, if you give you will receive.
It's interesting how the first option relies on independence, while the second requires interdependence. If you choose what is behind curtain number two, you have to be okay with not only giving, but receiving charity as well, and I am rarely certain which is easier. But in these acts of interdependence, Jesus works on us. The former works on our greed, the latter on our pride.