Zeal for the Common Good


I was recently the recipient of very helpful, practical advice from the Facebook group page Bryn Athyn Scuttlebutt. I got a shot (in the arm so to speak) of confidence that despite all the contentious and shrill national media rhetoric, our local community has many good souls who care deeply about their neighbors regardless of their political persuasion. This is a great example of what the Writings refer to as “a zeal for the common good” (AC 44330). It is all about people reaching out in their local communities to contribute to the general welfare with their distinct skills and interests, and with love.

On the grandest scale of all, the Lord tells us that the very form of heaven is built around this idea. Just as the human body has particular organs and systems that serve the whole body, so heaven has smaller and larger societies that have specialized uses which give them a focus but also are all tied together to serve the good of the whole.

In a similar vein, the divisions of the children of Israel into tribes, families and households was designed by the Lord as an example of people having responsibilities and loyalties to smaller groups which serve local needs which at the same time contribute to the national interest of maintaining an orderly, well-functioning society.

The word for “tent” in the Old Testament refers to “a community in respect to its good” (AC 8470). The Israelites were instructed to, “Take it, each for whoever is in his tent” by which was meant a responsibility to share of their goods with everyone who was of their particular household. In taking responsibility for the good of one’s own household, the Lord’s Divine Good operates with the power “of Divine Love emanating from the Lord” to form and arrange into order all the varieties of love into a single order (see AC 8470:2). A common good on a higher scale can only exist when there are enough parts of the body that are vibrant and healthy on the local level.

All of the teachings about the common good can help us see how “top down” direction from the Lord is secretly working in each and every one of us to promote our eternal welfare. And through the “bottom up” unselfish actions of individuals and groups, the Lord brings a greater harmony and togetherness for society as a whole to enjoy.

On the subject of the common good I want to conclude with a shout-out to Austin Rose. His exciting gift to our community, the Bryn Athyn Treasure Hunt, has brought such great interest, excitement and pleasure to many of our residents over the holiday season. You might want to go on Facebook’s Bryn Athyn Scuttlebutt group page, to get the lowdown.