Sunday, 25 September 2016

Idiocy or a step in faith

We are so often constrained in our thinking as a result of genuine concerns over the future. These constraints on our thinking occur, more often then not, when we are facing a future that is bleak in terms of our finances. We are often unable to look away from our dire financial situation as this is at the centre of our attention with all its attendant future woes and the inescapable doom that lies as a consequence of poor financial management.  In such situations we find it extremely hard to do the risky thing as we wish to cling to our perceived security and minimise our risk exposure.  This is excellent prudent management.  Like most we would be extremely averse to placing our money into a high risk endeavour at the height of a global financial downturn or in the middle of a war purchasing land in the occupied territories (Jer. 32 6-15).

Jeremiah is told by God to buy land at a time of deprivation and war.  Jerusalem is surrounded by a besieging army and has very little prospect of being fit for prosperity.  One would have thought that this was the worst possible situation in which to undertake a transaction of land.  Yet, this is precisely what God asked of Jeremiah.  If Jeremiah had a closed mind to God's voice he would probably have said "Are you out of your...mind?".  Indeed, most of us and probably all of Jerusalem I am sure all said the same thing.  Yet, if we think about it a little more carefully, it is entrepreneurs who have this uncanny ability to move into a market or idea at the least favourable, apparently, moment who find themselves on top of a proverbial gold mine.   The fortunes that have been made by those who have invested wisely at the bottom of the market and sold at the peak are numberless.  Yes, we all marvel at their luck and fortitude, we are all green with envy every time we hear such stories.  No matter how you look at such things, there is only one way that we can acknowledge them and that is by stating quite clearly that they have taken a step of faith.

Abundant generosity of heart means taking a risk?  

In truth we have also heard stories of those who are wealthy dying in poverty of spirit despite having vast sums of financial wealth.  Wealth that has been hoarded over many years through careful and fruitful investment or as a result of instant fame.  Yet at the end of their lives they have lived in poverty and debt or else have neglected their family and friends.  The rich life has ended in reclusivity and neglect of themselves and their surroundings whilst other stories of those who have lived in neglect and poverty demonstrate an enormous heartrending understanding of friendship, love and wealth beyond understanding.  Most of the latter have taken impossible opportunities and discovered wealth through relationship and understanding. This sort of flip flop reversal is seen in the Lazarus parable from Luke's gospel (!6.19-31).  For many of us this counter intuitivity is a step too far on our journey and we fail to grasp the opportunity that God calls us into as we so often fail to listen to God's call upon our lives.

All steps of faith are steps that are taken in risk.  Myself and the family took a step of faith that brought us to Australia.  A step that had pointers of encouragement along the way, low hanging fruit that were gratefully received at the time.  Currently whether we are part of a worshipping community or not have that same opportunity in taking a similar step in faith.  Often our problem is that we lack commitment to our stated objectives and revert back into an attitude of containment and a scrabbling for the minimum to keep us sane.  God's love is genuinely free and overflows into our hearts and minds assisting us in our daily lives by provoking us into a greater and greater generosity to those around us.  Yet, so often our pragmatism bites deep so that when the opportunity presents to give back in service and finance we draw up the drawbridge and hedge our battlements with arguments as to why we cannot step outside our comfortable living.

Our community is now at such a point.  The past has shown us the generosity of God's love by our overflowing into the community around us.  Just as Native cultures around the world demonstrate to us that it is the community not the nuclear self or family that ensures the survival of the culture so as a God centred community we need to acknowledge for ourselves that it is out of our abundant generosity that we survive.  It is our commitment to our community that will enable us to grow together, to build rather than to shrink, to think beyond rather than to the present and above all to listen and respond to God's call upon our lives as we move into the future.

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