- Archeology proves that the mightest of civilizations have been surprisingly ceased.
- Agrarian societies are witnessed from our earliest histories.
- Why have large tracts of land been rendered useless, and uninhabitable in our day?
- Why the vision of a densely populated city and its sprawling suburbia?
- Why the view of the surrounding countryside that is largely seen as a resource to enjoy, exploit and ultimately abandon?
- What is mankind’s role in relation to the land?
- Why have we left the rural areas and fled to the urban centers?
- Is our world hemorrhaging from mankind’s misunderstanding of their role?
- The curse of urban sprawl is real.
- Suburbia grows ever larger, feeding on the city like a parasite.
- Mankind continues to struggle to understand their identity, purpose, and calling.
Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.100resilientcities.org
The potter and the clay
The imagery can’t be denied in the very next scene. Looking around everything appears to be the same, but nothing feels right. Suddenly they hear a familiar sound, but it brings fear and shame. The Master Craftsman is walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Typically they would have run to Him but not today, not now. Now nothing seems right. They feel naked and ashamed and as they hide they frantically seek to cover themselves. The plants that they were cultivating and keeping they now ravage their leaves to cover themselves… their evil desires have been exposed. Will things forever be changed?
The Marring Revealed
What’s about to happen reveals the far-reaching implications of the scarcity narrative. Adam and Eve had believed a lie, and they were still believing it. The Revisionist had sowed the seed that God was keeping something from them that was holding them back from an even better life. They had agreed that they wanted their eyes opened so that they could be like God. They wanted access to knowledge that they did not have. The desire that had been awakened within them was now fully alive. What I find more telling was their relationship with the story that God had been unfolding was now strangely and deeply corrupted. They assumed that God’s narrative was now meaningless, unable to create and sustain life, and their hope rested on the words of the Revisionist.
When they hear the voice of their maker call out Adam’s name, their responses are so common to us today that we quickly pass over them without much of a second thought. While it might seem totally natural to us today, there was a time when this was so strange it would have never entered the heart or mind. And even if they had, these words would have been put to death before they ever had been spoken, never allowed out into the open market of ideas. But now they believe the lie, so what happens next had actually never been heard before. Did Adam’s own voice sound strange his own ears or those of his wife? What wisdom was this that caused him to dishonor his wife? How had he become so bent and disfigured in his thinking? What had never dawned on them, now seems like such a tangible thought, “I hope that He doesn’t see my nakedness. I’m so ashamed.”
Like all the other Adams that come after him (except for one), he makes excuses and seeks to relieve himself of responsibility. He would have done anything at that point to remove himself from the spotlight, the Lord’s gaze was like an all-consuming fire. Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise us that Eve follows her husband’s shame-filled example, with very similar tactics, and points this… shame and condemnation… upon someone else. This is not my fault, it’s all because of the Revisionist – he made me do it. The Revisionist takes a bow with an “easy as pie” smirk on his face. And so it all begins, the backdrop and props for their new life have been arranged and the revealing lights of the stage come up. It certainly doesn’t look good for the story that God is telling.
Hope is not lost
Jesus, the Second Adam
We are products of the narrative that we live in.
Whether it’s a narrative of scarcity or flourishing,
depends on who is telling the story.
Are we listening to the Original Author or the Revisionist?
As I have considered the narrative of flourishing, I remembered a story Jesus told to people to remind them of the truth in the narrative in which they were living. If history has demonstrated anything, it is that we are products of the narrative that we live in. It’s so good to have reminders from time to time of the storyline that we’re living in – what we believe to be true about ourselves, and the world we live in. These things deeply shape us. Our every thought, desire, and action are derived from this understanding of the narrative. Consequently, the Revisionist knows this and instinctively sets out to deceive, derail, and destroy. He believes that He can rewrite history not understanding that all things have already been created and in the Lord’s time He will reveal them – even the Revisionist himself is subject to the potters making. We can see this in the Master Craftsman’s narrative here.
It’s intriguing to discover in the story that Jesus shares, that the Master entrusted his property to three different servants – but it was a stewardship, not an inheritance. He gave to each one according to their own ability (take note that he inherently knew what they were capable of) and declared to them that he was going on a journey. On the front end, there’s no mention of how long the Master would be gone. So it’s somewhat surprising to the reader that after a long time he finally returns. Was it surprising to the servants as well? When he returned each one was called upon to give an account of what they had done with what they had been entrusted with. Two of the servants had taken what they had been given and had caused it to flourish – they were richly rewarded for their stewardship. But the third servant had taken what had been given and buried it trying to preserve what little he thought he had. He had believed a wrong view of the Master. Instead, he had believed the Revisionist lie of scarcity and hid it. You should look it up and see how the story ends, it’s an eye-opener!
I find myself asking…
It’s time we reconsider this much larger context of the Gospel narrative and pose the questions which I believe arise naturally out of it. I believe that His narrative of flourishing has way more insight into the world we’re living in today than we ever imagined.
- What would it look like for all the families of the earth to take God’s design laid out in the creation story as a serious narrative that they too should live out?
- Was it God’s directive to be “fruitful-multipliers” who decentralize themselves and spread out and fill the earth and cultivate and keep it as good stewards to ensure that it flourished? Is this what we’re doing? What does our short history demonstrate?
- What if we were confident that being fruitful and multiplying and filling the whole earth was not only viable and sustainable but was even flourishingly profitable?
- Why have we presumed that something God blessed us with – this ability to be “fruitful-multipliers” – is not a good narrative to follow and that we should greatly limit our childbearing? And what have been the implications? (I believe this is the greatest sign of our scarcity mentality)
- What if the supply and demand in God’s narrative is actually a harmonious economy by his design?
- When God sent His Son Jesus Christ to seek and to save that which was lost, how did this affect our ability to proclaim a narrative that redeems and restores a life of flourishing on the earth?
- Do you see how Jesus is a second Adam – the new/original cultivator and keeper of creation?
- What if each family was to spread out across the earth to leverage the max potential of the creation they were given to steward? What would that require?
- How long can we continue to get more and more compacted in cities and continue to reject God’s cultural mandate? Consider what this requires?
- What if at the heart of businesses there was a DNA to love and serve others well, causing others to flourish in their role stated in the cultural mandate? What types of things would these businesses be doing? List possible products and services.
- What about this post seems strangely opposite of the human trajectory that has played out in our history?
- In what ways have you seen mankind attempt to live according to the story of the Revisionist? versus the Original Author who I refer to as the Master Craftsman?
What if governments, organizations, enterprises, communities, families, and individuals all rallied around the narrative of flourishing within and because of God’s designed order?
- What if
this narrative of scarcity is the reality of rejecting and rebelling against what God created and listening instead to the Revisionist?
- Is the role of the church similar to the role of Eve? What does it look like when we view the Church as the Second Eve?
Like the first Eve, what if the Church has believed the Revisionist, abdicated its purpose, and actually ignored its role in equipping saints for thier God-given work flourishing?
- How has the Church continued to be controlled by the scarcity of the Revisionist?
- Paul described
the whole earth as groaning. Could this be changed and the earth caused to rejoice because the Second Adam and Second Eve have lived in a proper union and only listened to the Original Author’s narrative of flourishing?
- How does Isaiah 48:17 stand as a beacon of light proclaim that in God’s time He has already made all things beautiful?
Closing thoughts and prayer
Let me close with this thought taken from Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. I was reading it this morning and was amazed at how closely it mirrors this vantage point of the narrative. It says, “Our lives are lived well only when they are lived on the terms of their creation, with God loving and us being loved, with God making and us being made, with God revealing and us understanding, with God commanding and us responding. Being a Christian means accepting the terms of creation, accepting God as our maker and redeemer, and growing day by day into an increasingly glorious creature in Christ, developing joy, experiencing love, maturing in peace. By the grace of Christ we experience the marvel of being made in the image of God. If we reject this way, the only alternative is to attempt the hopelessly fourth-rate, embarrassingly awkward imitation of God made in the image of men and women like us.”