Topic category: Secession - Formation of a New Constitutional Republic
The Jesus Can – a Political Lesson
A painted coffee can passed around a prayer group taught us a lesson we seem to have forgotten.
Some years ago we were leaders of a thriving Charismatic prayer group at St. Joseph’s Church in Bakersfield, California. We were a wonderful mix of young and old, Latino, Caucasian and Black, laughing, singing, praising God and learning to deal with each other, in what is confused today as “diversity.” We were especially blessed with the older Mexican women who loved to cook. Our true diversity was what made America great – diversity of gifts and talents and the willingness and freedom to share them. After all, science has proven by DNA tracking we all came from the same set of parents in East Central Africa. Racial and Ethnic diversity pales in freedom’s light when all are free to responsibly develop and share their gifts; to succeed or fail – to try again.
The Charismatic Renewal drew from a broad spectrum of folks from a variety of psychological and spiritual levels of growth or torment. It often scared the poor pastors who couldn’t grasp the vigor and enthusiasm, or the occasional insanity so often hidden in “politically correct” congregations. Sadly, it was overtaken by spiritually dry secularism.
We tried to help people in need, so a collection was taken up every week to have funds available if someone needed them. One of the members painted and decorated a coffee can to pass around during prayer and meditation. We called it “The Jesus Can.” The double meaning wasn’t lost on us… “Jesus can” and The Jesus Can!
There was a political lesson in the ultimate failure of the Jesus Can. For the first few months, the money was collected and the attendees knew the money was there for anyone truly in need. People were helped with utility bills, groceries, school books and car repairs, whatever. The fund continued to grow. So did the leadership we called “The Core Group.” The group felt the need to create a bureaucracy. We weren’t childlike enough to rely on the Holy Spirit and Scripture for discernment, including some good old combined subsidiarity and solidarity demonstrated in the Jesus Can operation. (See Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter, ‘Caritas in veritate”)
We decided it was important that the Core Group hear the needs of anyone who drew help from the Jesus Can. The troubled ones had to come, hat in hand and lay out their needs so the group could decide what to do for them. (We never got to the point where we needed a “cut” for our services.)
There was little identifiable abuse of the Jesus Can. The funds continued to grow… until the needy, subject to the humiliation of explaining themselves stopped looking to spiritual brothers and sisters for encouragement – like job referrals, help in moving, correction, guidance, friendship, etc. The Jesus Can died because no one put money into it anymore! Is this where government steps in to force benevolence, including health care?
Even in this microcosm of society the trend to centralized control creates a negative result. Better to manage a free people by exception, not universal despotism. Today’s spiritual warfare is combat over who runs the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Some church leaders (mostly quite innocently) under the guise of social justice demanded the government pay for the Works. Save for dedicated government employees, government has no capacity for love. The cost in funds and human misery via reliance on government is only now becoming clear. The Church ceded control over her rightful and very efficient role which is now largely filling the Jesus Can with tax dollars and crushing debt. Maybe we should give the real Jesus Can another try.
Jerry is a retired engineer with strong experience in environmental innovation which he still applies today with 2 clean water and energy saving technologies. His life avocation in writing and study of philosophical and biblical themes as they apply to the body politic's spiritual warfare. He survived stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006; now in excellent health. A graduate of the University of Illinois (1958, Industrial Engineering), Jerry had post graduate studies at both the University of San Francisco and the University of Santa Clara in California between 1961 and 1963 (Logic, Marketing). As co Founder and seminar presenter he was awarded a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Valley Christian University operating under California private-post secondary statutes for mid career student, VCU was the pioneer external degree school for mid career students. Its course structures were picked up by several well known Christian colleges. Hosted local broadcast radio and TV shows, "Religion on the Line" and "The News Firm" (jointly with wife, Joanne), respectively. Jerry has published several books that are available at Amazon. Jerry is available to speak as a visiting lecturer at the high school, college or community organization level. Jerry is married 55 years to Joanne Dean Todd – 3 children, 8 grandchildren.