At times in the corner of the internet where this blog seems to live we are preaching to each other. Ineffectively. The reason we do this is that we are trying to stop people being destroyed. We are either saying “I have lived through this. But it was painful. If you go down this road you will live this too”, or “This cannot last”.
You cannot sow weeds and expect to eat good bread. You cannot feed people food sweetened with high fructose syrup and not expect them to get fat.
Nothing new here. In the end, it is not what we eat… for we do not live by bread alone.
1This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. 3He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the LORD your God disciplines you. 6Therefore keep the commandments of the LORD your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you.
11Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. 12When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today. 19If you do forget the LORD your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20Like the nations that the LORD is destroying before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
We cannot be assured of our prosperity or security in this land. We have to work for it: each day we need to praise God that we can labour and earn. It could stop quickly. One accident, one stroke, and earning ceases.
THe state, which has provided workplace insurance and basic pensions (at least in New Zealand) since 1890, can also fail. For many years, the goal of NZ politicians was zero unemployment. When we tried to industrialize (by central diktat) we almost went bankrupt. Argentina is bankrupt..
However, we earn our dollars, we are always dependent on the circumstantes. We have to adapt: there were once Vineyards in Norfolk (and there are Vineyards in Otago). But Norfolk is too cold, and if we are at a Maunder minimum we will be too cold as well: those vineyards would then disappear and we would revert to sheepfarming (which is much less productive per hectare). These changes happen over decades — when I was a teenager and we visited central otago it was wild. It is now quite settled and prosperous.
The biggest danger, however, is the lie that we did this, alone or collectively. For it allows us to forget God, and forgetting God has consequences individually and collectively. You cannot eat what you do not earn forever.. You cannot deride masculinity and expect manliness, or courage, or fidelity
In the Bible God’s love is frequently paralleled with a mothers love for her child. A mother loves the child that is hers…she may have no maternal instinct but the second a child is “mine”..it suddenly becomes her imperative to feed it, nuture it, protect it.
And yet we live in times that are so disordered that mothers in mass are killing their children, and even when they have them they abandon them to others to raise. And even when they raise them themselves, they feel insecure..because even as they lived a well-ordered life, it requires they abandon the disordered herd that begs them march along. ”Don’t question the disorder..it might start to catch on.”
We have made this mess by our overconfidence. Our hubris is making us nauseous. We need to change, starting with the church.