Sunday, September 18, 2011

Care for the Earth

God's original mandate for Adam was for him multiply and to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:26) and to till the the garden making it productive (Gen. 2:15). We could imagine the earth today the Garden of Eden made large.

I recently drove through the Columbia Basin of Washington where in sixty years the sage brush desert has been made to bloom as a rose. At one high point I stopped to look over the landscape.

As far as I could see in every direction were orchards, vineyards, wheat fields, corn, and sugar beats. It was a panorama of green and gold. But all is not well.

A recent trip to New Delhi India provided a sobering reminder that we have not done so well everywhere. Dust and smoke from cars and factories and burning garbage so polluted the air I could hardly breathe. The city itself was ill-kept,crowded, and festering. But that is a city, right?

Right. But it does not need to be so. On a recent trip into Seattle on the Sound Transit light rail train I noticed a green spot in an urban area I traveled through. Later I returned by car so I could look more closely. It was a community garden. In a strip of land that was a power line right of way, residents had planted a block long patch of vegetables and flowers.
Community gardens are not new. The city where I live has community gardens. Many homes have backyard gardens, as well. But the contrast between New Dehli and the Seattle neighborhood caused me to think about the mandate God gave Adam. Could we not do better at caring for the world than we have done. It is possible. God gave us the intelligence. We only need the will to follow his good plan.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unity


The theme for the year at school is unity.  The theme is taken from John 17:21 which reads: "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me.

It is a great theme. Certainly it is what God wants for us. But we often think of unity as something we need to work toward rather than something that God creates. (The closest we come to working toward unity is Ephesians 4:3 where we are told to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." But even then we simply keep what God has created.) However, like everything spiritual we try to do in the power of the flesh, no matter how hard we try, unity escapes us. The best we can achieve is agreement and cooperation. That is not unity, though agreement and cooperation may be the product of unity. It is too tenuously based when it is mere agreement and cooperation.

So, what is unity? John 17:21 actually refers back to John 17:11. There unity means the unity of brothers and sisters of one Father.  It is the unity of family, of being from one blood spiritually. It is the unity of a family whose focus is on the Father, rather than on themselves.

That sounds like worship, and in fact, true worship is one place where unity is most purely experienced. It is the place where unity begins - focusing together on God. As we focus on God, we allow God to be God. We stop playing God.  We allow our brothers and sisters to be accountable to God rather than to us.  We give up our right to be critical and to judge. That right is God's alone.

What a relief is this letting God be God. How sweet to see God's mercy and grace in the lives of others rather than looking for "issues."  What a joy this kind of unity is. And it is ours as we turn our focus to God and rest in his sovereignty.