Monday, November 3, 2008

Restoration, Transformation and the Shattering of Self-Complacency

Heavy title? Yeah, heavy topic. For those of you who don't know, I'm a theologian, missiologist and seminarian. Basically, I love religion, the study of religion, religious thought and even more, I love religion in action. Missiology, for those who are wondering, is the study of mission work and the action thereof. Anyway, I received my calling a while ago, which I won't go into now, but I'm in seminary to become an ordained elder in my church. Gasp...and she's a WOMAN! Yes, I'm a woman and yes, God did call me, and no, this does not mean I'm going to a nether region that will require my family to bury me in something other than a sweater. I love God, I love God's people, God's world and that is my life's work.

Now, the real topic of this post stemmed from a recent assignment I had which was to examine the book of Jeremiah. In doing so, I was to read a couple different commentaries from religious scholar's on the same book and then discern my thoughts. So, here I was reading along in my Global Bible Commentary to contextual comments written by professor and author Renita J. Weems (who just happens to be the first African American woman to earn a PhD in Old Testament studies...which I think is super cool). She made several statements in her 13 page commentary that struck me. In fact, by the time I was done reading it, I felt like I had been attacked by a lightening storm because of the number of things that struck me.

The gist of this reading compared Jeremiah and his life with the life and times of today. Weems talked about self-complacency in American citizens and that though it was shaken up after 9/11, it has, sadly, returned. Jeremiah was also dealing with a culture and a people who were, at best, self complacent. In order to fully appreciate the background on Jeremiah, I'd like to encourage you to read the book and then come back to these thoughts for a more in-depth personal analysis of our world today and what it can learn from the world and ministry of Jeremiah.

Weems states the following, "Jeremiah's career involved two impossible tasks: Leading his people as they mourned the loss of everything they knew and loved and helping them imagine the better future God had for them." Hmmm. Sounds like somebody we could use today. Weems goes on to say that "he urges them to trust that God will bring something new and beautiful out of their misery and trauma. After all, restoration was always the plan." Do you see where I'm going at with this? Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that either Obama or McCain are prophets like Jeremiah was. However, what I do believe is that we need someone who is not afraid to speak up and say NO to the status quo and do it for the betterment of peace. Being a great leader means you're not going to make people happy all of the time. All the great leaders that you and I can think of made people mad...and why? It wasn't because the were given special powers, but because they believed in something and believed in it enough not to back down even when it got hard. They were not afraid to speak TRUTH to POWER.

So many people around us are loosing everything they've gained. Homes are being taken, 401k's are melting away and the stability and security we all long for is nowhere to be seen. How then, do we speak to those who are broken and afraid? How do we restore a country, a world and a people who are so greatly in need of hope?

Self Complacency has cost us enough. We need to make sure we are fully aware all the time of the world we live in and not invest or put stock into a world that cannot fill our voids in the way that God can. God can restore us. God can take our self-complacency, our brokenness and make us whole. God can take this tumultuous time and transform us into new life.

"One of the reasons the ministry of Jeremiah continues to capture the hearts of readers is because the prophet did not shy away from pain. He endured this pain rather than offering smug interpretations of it," Weems. Weems continues on to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a letter he wrote from a Birmingham Jail. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." AMEN. King knew then that we were a complacent culture. Jeremiah knew waaaay back when that they were a complacent culture. All we have to do today is turn on the TV and we know that we're a complacent culture. Example: There is roughly 6 Billion people on the planet right now. Of that 6 Billion, 2 Billion people don't have clean drinking water. 2 Billion people drink and bath in water infested with parasites, animal urine, etc. It has been said that it would cost around 11 Billion dollars to completely fix the world's water supply problems...that's it. Our country just spent 700 Billion bailing out banks and only 11 Billion could have insured clean drinking water for 2 Billion people. Now...we all know about our countries financial problems, but how many know about our world's water problems? That's the complacency I'm talking about. We are so busy feeling sorry for ourselves because we have to give up our SUV, that we forget just how mortal and human we are. We forget that at least our basic human rights are being met. As I sit here, drinking a completely clean and safe bottle of water, I think about those who will never get a sip of clean water like this in their entire life...and I, I get to wash my hair in it. I get to sit on a toilet that has cleaner water than these people will ever have to drink. Pretty damning...I think.

So...this is obviously something that is troubling me and I think in times like these, when we have a future a head of us that is dangling in peril, we have to do something. We have to stop talking and actually care enough to do something. We have to pierce through our everyday numbness and for the love of something. And in doing something, in thinking of someone besides ourselves, God will transform us and restore us. It's like Mother Teresa said in my previous post, DO IT ANYWAYS! The kids in my church are collecting pocket change to go to Living Water, an organization who gives 100% of donations to building wells in 3rd World countries so they can have clean drinking water. Think about getting involved and think tonight, about thanking God, instead of asking for more.


Martha said...

Wow! Heavy duty post, heavy duty blog and you sure seem to be an all out heavy duty woman! I'm impressed! Love it! :-)

Woman on a Mission said...

Thanks Martha. I appreciate your comments and thanks for stopping by.

Fotógrafo da Paz said...

Dear Friend,
Congratulations for your blog and its photographs! As a photographer I have had the opportunity of studying beauty, and (I am sure you know it in God better than I) there is a kind of beauty saint people from all eras call Shekinah. Beauty Shekinah is in the photos you have choosen to include in your blog!

Fotógrafo da Paz said...

Dear Sister,

Congratulations for your blog! Your insights and the photos you are choosing to illustrate it are wonderful...
As a photographer I have studied beauty, and there is a kind of beauty called (for saint people from all over the eras) Shekinah. The photographs you have choosen to place in your blog are full of beauty Shekinah! Go ahead!

Francois said...

Thought provoking stuff. I was shocked to find out that 2 billion people do not have clean water and that it would only cost $11 billion to fix this problem. Wow, that is an endictment on all of us.

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