Sunday, January 24, 2010

Can't see the forest

for the trees, or maybe the toothpicks, newspapers, turpentine, or other wood by-products.

There are a few major themes in the Bible. Things like redemption,
compassion, peace, justice, just to name a few. The 'forest' if you will.

It seems that over the centuries the church has got really good at
distilling, digging, mining for little nuggets (pardon the mixed metaphor) of truth.

But in so doing, we have forgotten the forest these little nuggets were taken from.

  • Instead of compassion and affirmation, we have emphasized one or another definition of 'holiness' that isn't compassionate.
  • Instead of justice for all, we have focussed on individual freedom, blessings, wealth, power, etc. And justice for all has turned into injustice for those who aren't the privileged few.
  • Instead of God's desire to redeem even the worst, we are ready to consign them all to hell as we tell them: “I told you so, serves you right.”
  • Instead of an active, present sense of the reign of God in this world, we have turned our back on the problems of today's world in order to plan only for eternity.
  • Instead of a land where God's shalom permeates and brings resolution to conflict, we have invented 'just war', the Crusades, colonialism, and other 'Christian' ways of dealing with injustice.

To continue the forestry analogy, we have clear-cut the whole forest, and all we have to show for it is a little pile of dead branches and leaves, and a massive mansion.
Instead of an environment where all creatures can co-exist, we have an obscenely huge home for one of the creatures, and displaced everything else.

Can't see the beautiful, natural forest of compassion because the trees have been turned into instruments of hate, segregation and division.
The few trees that remain are hard to identify as the former glorious forest—but it still is the forest!

Just step back and regain the perspective of the big picture.
If we allow it, the forest will grow back.
God's kingdom is still a place of rest, hope, support, affirmation, encouragement, peace, joy, love, equality and redemption.
We just need to get back to looking at the forest instead of focusing on what we can make of the trees.

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