The way in which we order our lives in the modern age is something that burdens me more and more each day. I recognize that I have benefited greatly from the advances of modern civilization and its technology but, then again, this is the only world I’ve known. Of course I would say this especially as I write this on a computer with the hope that it will be read by you via Facebook and Twitter. But please hear me out in the midst of my very apparent contradictions.
I am human being who has been completely divorced from the land. If you took away the modern conveniences that have come to define our modern way of life I wouldn’t know how to provide for my family and take care of them. Not having supermarkets, where would I get my food? Not having plumbing, where would I get my water? Not having a car, how would I get around? We tend to take such things for granted not giving them much thought but the scary part is that they are the product of a civilization that is not sustainable for the long haul. If there’s one thing that history makes clear, it’s that civilizations collapse. I doubt that we will be the exception given our consumptive patterns but that’s another conversation for another day.
As I wrestle with such a burden I am confronted by the fact that we humans have created a world within a world. There’s God’s creation and then there’s our creation which comes to its ultimate expression in the city. The city operates according to its own standards, which, at its core, are human standards. I am understanding more why the message of Genesis 3 – 11 is anti-city and I am also understanding why this message rears its ugly head throughout the prophets, the gospels and, of course, Revelation. By creating our own world within a world we lose aspects of our humanity which are intrinsically bound up with the Creator. Cain builds a city so that he could feel more secure and not have to rely upon God for all that is good. In so doing creation is further distorted, perverted, used and exploited. In so doing we create our own standards, our own systems, our own vocations all bound up within it. Is it any wonder than that so many jobs that we work are so incredibly unfulfilling and almost torturous? To be a cashier at a CVS or a stock boy in a supermarket (both of which I have done) are unfulfilling for the simple reason that they are the product of our consumptive way of life. One more cog in a machine that is deeply impersonal and cold. There’s no relation to the land that we were created to be in communion with, just white lights, aisles, carpets and thousands of products to be consumed.
Nonetheless, I was reminded this past Sunday that as a disciple of Jesus I am to fish for men and that I am to do so because of their unjust lifestyles and ways. Working first and foremost on myself I am trying to figure out how to do that as I follow Jesus. As I look out at the world around me, the world created by human beings, I sense that there is a better way. Namely, the Way of Jesus. On this I walk seeking to recapture what I lost and what he regained for me through his words and actions.