"I am but dust called to die to
self and live in Christ. My walk with my Lord is limited
by my belief in myself and my desire to be something,
anything, other than dust." -- Wendy
When did we start
to view the Kingdom of God in manufacturing terms rather
than organic terms?
In manufacturing, we build our
widgets, perfect them, create a market, sell our
products, build our capital, float public shares, organize
take-overs and mergers, and exist for wealth
creation. We measure our effectiveness according
to the capital
we acquire: property, facilities, equipment, inventory, cash reserves, etc.
we report regularly to the Board or the stock-holders,
who expect tangible results, improved products, expanded
product lines, and a healthy "bottom line."
But the Kingdom of God is
distinctively organic. It corresponds more to a
biological plant than a factory
plant. It incorporates
people not machinery. It embraces cooperation not
competition. And the bottom line is not cash but
Let's not underestimate the
implications of such a shift in metaphor. When
we discard the industry model and embrace
we discover some remarkable
First, nobody assesses gardens by
the criteria "bigger is better." While we may marvel at
acres of gorgeous landscaping, we can delight just as much
in a small plot. Second,
we may diligently tend a garden
but we can't force growth. That's the Gardener's job (1
Cor 3:6). Finally, organic entities have natural
life-cycles where decline and death is normal not
shameful. The Gardener
holds a shed full of options when it's time
for a re-plant.
Jesus chose metaphors and parables
for the Kingdom from the agricultural context of His day
sown by a sower, grain and tares, mustard seeds, etc.
Was He simply accommodating the agrarian culture of His day?
Or might He still use such images
today, to move us away from "God the Industrialist"
to "God the Gardner"? I suspect the latter.
manufacturing model for the church reduces people to either
salesmen or customers, and assumes that accumulation
signifies success. It demands quarterly reports and
clear job descriptions (spiritual gifts). But the
organic Kingdom of God confronts such spiritual
capitalism. And by doing so, it frees us.
Consider this important change of metaphor ...
and let's bloom where we're planted.