God's Varied Grace
One of the challenges for people of faith in thinking about ‘the common good’ is that the phrase itself seldom appears in the Bible. However, the foundational ideas behind Common Good RVA and other movements like it are thoroughly biblical. An example of the biblical support for the common good is 1 Peter 4:10:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as stewards of God’s varied grace."
Let me walk through that verse (in reverse order) to show how it supports our vision at Common Good RVA.
God’s varied grace
We are committed to recognizing and leveraging common grace for the common good of Richmond. Our basic operating assumption is that God gives gifts to people. Theologians refer to these gifts as common grace. We also recognize that the same grace of God manifests variously in each person. While it’s always a grace from God, specific giftings look different for everyone and require discernment to recognize.
Although not a word of much contemporary currency, ‘steward’ is an important word for those seeking to understand God’s purpose for humanity. ‘Steward’ suggests the active management of the resources of the world through our particular giftedness. Stewardship is at the core of what it means to be human, as we represent God in the world. Those who have been gifted by God’s common grace carry the responsibility of stewards in, and to, the world.
Serve one another
The purpose of God’s gifts (his grace) is that we would serve one another. Gifts are never given solely for the recipient’s benefit. Rather, they are intended to be used in the service of others. All others. When we understand that gifts are given for the sake of serving others, we can better see what it means to foster the common good.
Each has received a gift
Acknowledging that the purpose of our God-given gifts is the common good, we also recognize that each person has received a gift. Therefore, part of pursuing the common good will involve attending to and leveraging the gifts of every person. Each is gifted for the benefit of all. Part of our mission to help Richmond become more attuned to the unique gifts that all people possess as image-bearers of God.
When we describe the purpose of Common Good RVA as creating a network of Richmonders who are inspired to use their daily work to seek the common good of their city, we are echoing the ancient wisdom of Peter who wrote, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Erik Bonkovsky is pastor of City Church of Richmond. He is a co-founder and planning team member of Common Good RVA.