The Bible delivers wisdom about our human experience, which is accessible even from a non-religious standpoint. In the Gospels, Jesus’s bread miracles symbolize the connection economy, which supports abundance and social enterprise, while Jesus’s temptation shows forth an economy of lack.
Regime of Fear and Lack
If sharing your food with a stranger means that your own child will starve, you are forced into a dilemma: no matter your good-will, one person will suffer. An economy, in which the supply of goods is limited, breeds competition.
This economy of lack (and stinginess) is behind the temptation by Satan to Jesus: “Turn this stone into bread.” Jesus (although famished) refuses: “One does not live by bread alone.” (Luke 4:3b-4)
Satan’s regime breeds isolation. The strong-man (or tyrant), alone on his throne, dominates and snatches all goods for himself. Everyone pays lip-service to Satan’s appointed tyrant, in fear for their own survival.
“One does not live by bread alone”: God’s kingdom of justice and generosity will not be traded away, for the sake of the individual’s survival at the expense of others.
Satan’s rule may be compared to a pyramid scheme: “If your income is based predominantly on how many people you recruit into the program, not how much product you sell, it’s a pyramid scheme.” (FTC on pyramid schemes) Investors pay into a scheme that produces no tangible benefit, while producing money for the king schemer himself, together with his minions.
Regime of Life: Abundance, Generosity, Justice
Jesus performs miracles with bread, in service to God’s regime, governed by abundance, growth, and new possibilities. This economy, of compassion and connection, is governed by the principle: your needs are my needs. One’s gifts multiply in being circulated. The supply is unlimited, since creative possibility exhibits the evolutionary impulse of Spirit.
By contrast to a pyramid scheme, a social enterprise will generate new wealth, growth, and prospects for individuals and the community.
Consider Bill Strikland’s Manchester Bidwell –a school that cultivates the vocational and artistic talents of disadvantaged youth and adults in Philadelphia. Art is just as important as utility there. Top notch jazz musicians visit to perform. In an atmosphere regulated by compassion and generosity, beauty abounds. One of Strikland’s beliefs: “People are born into this world as assets, not liabilities.” : Link to Strikland’s Book
In compassion for a crowd (Mark 6:34), Jesus performs a bread miracle (Mark 6:41-44), feeding 5000 with just a few fish and loaves. Compassion opens new possibilities in the economy.
Not an isolated tyrant – at Satan’s bidding – Jesus models a divine miracle that may be imitated by all. Jesus instructs (Mark 6:37): “You give them something to eat,” i.e. my abilities are yours. The more who come to the banquet, the more that abounds for everybody.
Take a look at Seth Godin on the economy of stinginess vs. connection: Seth Godin On Connection Economy