See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. –James 5, 7b-8
I’m a farmer myself, and when I think about farming I think first of work, the constant round of digging, weeding, planting, weeding, watering, weeding and harvesting. The work is real enough, and it needs to be done and done well if there is to be a harvest. But James’ words remind me that the most important part of the work is not done by me. I do my part, and then I have to step back and wait for the rains to come and the seeds to grow in the course of nature, by the grace of God. I can’t make this happen, and I can’t hasten its happening. As Paul writes, one plants the seed, another waters it, but it is God who makes the plant grow. All I can do is create the conditions in which that growth can easily occur.
I think the same thing is true in the work of living an alternative to the consumer culture, preparing the way for a more just and sustainable human community. We can’t dismantle the institutions that seem wrong to us. We can’t force others to live as we think they should. All we can do is live our own lives according to God’s call as we have heard it, and welcome others who are starting to hear a call. We can demonstrate that another way of life is possible and invite people to consider how they choose to live. How they respond to that invitation is between them and God.
We can’t even transform our own lives single-handedly. Our own blindness, carelessness, greed and hardness of heart get in the way of the work we wish to do. I don’t think we can wholly remove these from our hearts by sheer force of will. What we can do is recognize and confess them, yield to them as little as possible, call to God for help with them, and wait for the rains of grace to come and the seeds of vision, competence, generosity and compassion to grow.
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Today in Christian History
1715 – Robert Norden became licensed pastor of the Baptist congregation in Prince George County — the first Baptist church organized within the American colony of Virginia.
1940 – Auschwitz, largest of the Nazi concentration camps, was first opened near Krakow, Poland. Before its liberation by the Allies in 1945, over 3 million Jews would be exterminated there.
1956 – President Eisenhower signed a congressional resolution which added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. The last phrase now reads: ‘…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
1966 – The Vatican announced that its ‘Index of Prohibited Books’ (created by Pope Paul IV in 1557) had been abolished.
1984 – The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution opposing the ordination of women for ministry in the Baptist Church.
Source for Today in Christian History: www.studylight.org