God’s experimental garden
Jesus gives life. Jesus invites us into life. This invitation is rooted in knowing and following. Jesus calls us into an interactive relationship. He beckons us, “Come! Follow me.” The language he used in his invitation consists of phrases like “good news” and “kingdom”.
The good news is that there is a new way to be human; we are called to be and become more like Jesus. More like God, more human. One of the early observers of the Jesus story wrote what happened when people accepted this new invitation,
“Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, or by speech, or by dress. For they do not dwell in cities of their own, or use a different language, or practice a peculiar life . . . but while they dwell in Greek or barbarian cities according as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the land in clothing and food, and other matters of daily life, yet the condition of citizenship which they exhibit is wonderful, and admittedly strange . . . every foreign land is to them a fatherland and every fatherland a foreign land. They marry like the rest of the world, they breed children, but they do no cast their offspring adrift . . . they exist in the flesh, but they live not after the flesh. They spend their existence upon earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and in their own lives they surpass the laws . . . In a word, what the soul is in the body Christians are in the world”
This letter from Diognetus explains how these young communities of Jesus followers grew into rhythms that at the same time resounded with the local cultures (Jesus described this as being in the world) but at the same time created an offbeat (Jesus described this as not being of the world).
I am in Brazil this week and my good friend Eduardo invited his community to stop three times a day during the coming week to pray “fix this world’” and to read through John 17 and notice how many times Jesus talks about the world. Because I am part of his community this week I am praying these prayers too. The praying reminded me of the fact that the kingdom we are invited into is an invitation of creating new wild spaces. Or to use a phrase that comes from the South African theologian David Bosch, become “experimental gardens”. He writes,
“We still live in the unredeemed world, but we may walk with our heads held high; we know that the kingdom is coming because it has already come. We live within the creative tension between the already and the not yet, forever moving closer to the orbit of the former. We Christians are an anachronism in this world: not anymore what we used to be, but not yet what we are destined to be. We are too early for heaven, yet too late for the world. We live on the borderline between the already and the not yet. We are a fragment of the world to come, God’s colony in a human world, his experimental garden on earth. We are like crocuses in the snow, a sign of the world to come and at the same time a guarantee of its coming.”
I wonder and pray. I am excited about Jesus and his invitation. I feel an immense sense of urgency to journey with Jesus and his people over time and space into this wild kingdom adventure of becoming experimental gardens. How do you feel about his invitation?