My life is composed of quite a few ideological dilemmas and unfortunately, as of late, they keep crashing into each other. It can feel paralyzing, and I often sit wondering which direction to go.
I know, you’re reading this wondering what the heck I”m talking about. Well, here’s a bit of back story. Over the last five years or so, I’ve gradually become more interested in sustainability, healthy living, social justice, simple living, and the like. I’ve read so many books on each of the topics, from extremists to those who merely dabble in one of the subjects. Along the way, I was swept into the current and feel passionate about making changes in my life and the way I do things. I no longer want to just follow the status quo, but make intentional decisions.
Over time, I have become more vegan-ish, organic-ish, trash reducing-ish, natural-is, recycling-ish, and lately, plastic reducing-sh. I say “ish” on these, because it’s a process and when I don’t take baby steps I crash and burn with my good intentions rather quickly.
I’ve also sought to become even more globally aware in areas ranging from human trafficking to political and cultural issues around the world, to better understanding the roots of poverty, etc.
It’s been a great journey, but I”m at the point where these individual paths of interest are starting to run into each other and either causing problems or negating the effects of the other. For example, vegans would argue that we need to avoid using leather and wool because of the often indecent treatment of animals. I can buy that. The problem is, we must then turn to buying synthetic shoes and clothes when cotton doesn’t do the trick to keep us warm. This, plastic-free advocates, would argue, contributes to waste and continues to endanger and pollute our environment.
Example #2. We who hate child labor and sweat shops want to support industries that are fair trade and discourage the use of young children working. However, when we jump on companies like The Gap and Levis and influence them to close plants or exclude child labor, we are inevitably causing poverty level families in some countries to lose their only source of income. Check out Where Are You Wearing? for more thoughts on this.
There are three ways that I can approach these dilemmas. The first is to grasp onto evacuation theology, believe that Jesus is going to burn everything all up anyway when he comes back, so cling to our cheap plastic goods, and deal with unfair practices caused by lazy capitalism, and just tell myself that as long as we end up in heaven it doesn’t matter how we rape the earth.
The second option would be to despair over the state of our world with it’s melting ice caps and horrible human rights violations and the rise of cancer patients, etc. We can strive and strive, but it looks like it all may be in vain. This is an easy chose to take.
But I choose the third choice. The third choice believes that Jesus was the firstborn of all creation, not just humanity, but of all things. It believes that his resurrection was just the beginning of the transforming of all things, where, as NT Wright says, God will put all things to rights. It believes that when he rose again, Jesus established his kingdom on this earth, and has begun and will continue to restore his creation as the Old Testament promises again and again.
The third choice believes that Jesus calls us to be agents in the here and now, and that the work we do for his kingdom will carry over into the coming age, when all is made right again…not just the work of sharing what is traditionally known as the Gospel, but the work we do in rescuing people from suffering, feeding the poor, seeking to be good stewards of the earth and it’s resources, finding contentment in simple things…
We as humans cannot fix the world’s problems on our own. We will only run into more problems. But, we can work, making the best choices we can, trusting that the power of Jesus will do the ultimately transformations that we could have never imagined, and that he will never allow our good works to be in vain.
If you ever tend to be like me, and fret over the what if’s and things that don’t seem to be reconcilable…trust in Jesus, because his power transcends all these things.
Seeking to fully live,
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