I have become so tired, tired of being tired, tired of not being able to change the world, tired of not being able to change the church and tired of not changing myself. Actually, to say “not able to change” is not true. Change is unavoidable. Once you stop changing you are dead. I guess I am talking about a particular type of change, a change towards holistic restoration.
I fight for healing change hoping that God will be on my side. I fight on for healing change on many fronts. Starting with my own farm and home trying to make this world a better place, trying to recreate a Garden of Eden, an integrated organic farm full of fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, flowers, perennials and annuals, and an assortment of livestock-cattle, sheep, pig, chicken. My Garden of Eden is a mix of God’s shalom and man’s curse - back-breaking work, cracked ground, pest-infested plants, beauty of bees and frogs, bountiful harvests cause arthritic hands and knees, pride in sweat and in blood, joy from the company of others and emptiness in isolation.
I am tired of feeling alone in the work that I have been called to do. Where is the church of upper-middle class suburbia? Stuck behind walls and idols of comfort and media suppressants. Where am I? Wanting to join them, giving in. I want more for my community. I want more from me. I want more from God. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe I should want less, be content with less. Ask for less and be more fully present with what I already have. The more I take on, the more indebted I feel, to my job, to my farm, to the projects in which I am involved. Maybe losing our life means doing less, having less and finding joy in less. Simplify and reconnect with the sacred. Sit and be in the wild; be wild. In striving for more, we lose what we have. Being still in the wildness of heart is the mastery not yet mastered.
We are all products of the culture in which we were raised and live. This is includes our language and the symbols we use to understand the world. The result of being a product of our culture is thinking our culture is better than all other cultures. This is called prejudice. No one is exempt from prejudices, but we can expose them and change our language to reflect something different with our words.
For example, “First world problems”, a tag line seen on many a facebook post, which I have spurted out myself from time to time, is as prejudice as it comes. It is derogatory and degrading. The most developed countries (first world) can see themselves as better than developing countries (second world), and much better than underdeveloped countries (third world). Using the terms of “first world” and “third world” is a form of language that degrades. I am guilty of this linguistic degredation.
The truth is that the “third world” or “underdeveloped” countries are the majority world. The largest percentages of people live in undeveloped and developing countries. The definitions we assign to these peoples and countries also define how we view these peoples. The “first world” consumes and wastes more than can be imagined. Check out these crazy stats: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810.
The “third world” wants to be the “first world”. If becoming a “first world” is the dream for the rest of the world, there will be no world left. Now, if we change our linguistic definitions, maybe the way we see and approach the world will change too. What if this became our lingo: “I live in the minority world consuming the majority of resources at the expense of the majority world who survive off a minority of resources.”
If the developed world, the “first world” is the best world, the most intelligent world, the most advanced world, than this world should be setting an example for the less advanced world to pursue, a sustainable world that seeks the betterment of all worlds. Change is unavoidable. Let’s start by changing our language.
1 Peter2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (ESV)
Around 50% of English translations of 1 Peter 2:24 translate the word for “tree” as “cross”. Translating xulon as both tree and cross is acceptable at face value; however, I wonder if Peter was intentionally trying to reference the cross as a tree. If Peter wanted only to mean the cross, he would have used the Greek word for cross, “stauros”.
I imagine Peter is referencing Deut 21:22-23 which says,
“If a man has committed a sinworthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.”
I wonder if there is more to the meaning of the tree in this passage. In the Garden of Eden there were two trees of focus, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Because of Adam and Eve’s distrust in God’s goodness, they disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree. They were banished from the garden and lost access to the tree of life. Adam and Eve, you and I, have been driven out of the garden of the LORD (Gen 3).
The original sin was fundamentally a breakdown of trust, a breakdown of relationship. Their relationship - our relationship - to God, to others and to Creation, has been broken by sin. We can witness this brokenness every day. We see the effects everywhere.
Humanity became cursed because of one tree and dies because lack of access to the other tree. But this is not intended to last forever. Instead, God became flesh and bore our sins in His body on one tree, so that humanity could once again have access to the other tree, the tree of life.
Our healing comes in His wounds. His blood cries out from the ground, “Father, forgive them, they not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). In the restoration of relationship through His finished work on a tree, we will have access to the everlasting tree.
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2)
The foundation for every society the world has ever known has been its agriculture. Communities live, grow and eat together by the work of their hands. The world’s largest and most common occupation is farming; people still farm more than anything else. Ironically, in most societies farmers are at the bottom of the food chain. In Africa approximately eighty percent of the population would consider themselves farmers while forty percent of the continent is malnourished. This means that the ones producing food cannot even feed themselves or their families. More food is being produced than ever before with more than enough to feed the entire world, yet nearly 1 billion people are malnourished.
Did you ever watch the TV show Man vs. Wild? In this show Bear Grylls ventures out into the untamed wild with usually nothing but a knife and some cameras. His goal is to stay alive in the wilderness for a few days using natural resources and whatever else he can find to survive.
This show gives us a glimpse of one’s struggle to live within a fallen Creation and control one’s natural surroundings. This is the exact same struggle that humanity faces as a whole today. Are we to dominate it, to worship it, or to steward it? How does God view our relationship to Creation? How does Creation relate to God? How are we to relate to what He has created?
Click here and find out!: http://wchurch.tv/my-television-life-man-vs-wild
I worked hard into the dark last night building order to our 35X65 ft garden. Catherine and myself boarded the garden with cardboard and a 1 1/2 yards of mulch to keep the grass from growing in and then I put a 7 ft high net fence up to keep deer out. Before I went inside, I looked back at the beauty of it’s order and my accomplishment. This morning was a different story: A violent storm passed through last night which destroyed my fence, bent ground stakes and threw mulch off the cardboard (which hurled 70-100 ft). It is a mess!
I am continually schooled by the fallen created order. Sometimes we can work tirelessly to make our plans and lives to be nice and neat and when we think we got it just right, it is destroyed in an instant.
Here is some food for thought: I started looking at all the verses in Scripture this morning that have the word “wind”. Some want to attribute natural disasters to an evil force, but nowhere in Scripture is this true. It is God who causes, hurls, directs, blows, raises up, brings forth, brings out, makes (to break out), smotes, drives, restrains, creates, and rebukes the wind. Lord, have mercy.