Monday, January 12, 2009

considering the ecology and economy of God

Reading in Genesis 22 today about Abraham's symbolic sacrifice of his only son Isaac, I was struck as if reading for the first time his words to his son. Isaac had asked his father a practical question regarding the sacrifice they were about to offer: where's the sacrificial ram?

In his teaching, Jesus spent a lot of time telling stories about the local economy and the local ecology, as a way of describing the character and nature of our Creator and what he intends to create through us. It is fundamentally different than the systems of this world.

In the economy of the world around us, our felt needs and desire for security necessitate acquisition, even at the cost of others' needs and security. It's what drives the free market and the black market, it's what transforms the Middle East into a war zone, it's what keeps East Oakland's flatlands seemingly locked up in crime and poverty.

In the ecology of the world around us, scarity drives up costs and directly influences our peace.

Abraham realized that on this trek, Yahweh had requested he sacrifice his only son -- a direct affront on his sense of personal security and long-term needs. Here are Abraham's words to Isaac:

8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.

Perhaps our soteriology (how salvation works) can obscure the nature of its' very soul: a God who loves, and calls his subjects to love as he does. When Abraham obeyed Yahweh, he was placing his and his son's life completely in the hands of God. Too often, I fear, we simply gloss over the passage and claim it as a foreshadowing, pointing to the eventual sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. I agree wholeheartedly, however, that reality shouldn't lessen the weight of what God is calling Abraham, and by extension you and I, to embrace: the relationship between love and sacrifice. Abraham was esteemed by God -- not because he had a correct theology -- but because he didn't withhold what was most precious to him. This released the provision of God. Do we see it? Do we see what possesses us and keeps us from a trust relationship with God?

I was driving to work this morning and praying, "Lord, teach me the posture of true leadership." I am convinced that Jesus modeled true leadership by taking the servant's towel and washing his disciples' feet. Power that flows from the ecology of God doesn't hold on selfishly to position, rank or wealth; instead, it becomes a conduit of that blessing by investing it into others.

Interestingly enough, when I landed at work this video from Michelle Obama was waiting in my e-mail inbox.

It bodes well for our future First Family that they place a very high priority on the nature of true leadership -- and my prayer is that the leadership they exhibit domestically and project across the span of the globe is reflective of the ecology and economy of God.

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