Competition and the Kingdom of God

I'm beginning to think that there is little room for competition in the kingdom of God. If the kingdom is a realm of non violence where all people can flourish, then it should be free from competition. For in competition there is a winner and a loser. There is exertion over the other and this is a type of violence that diminishes rather than builds up. Competition and Kingdom do not agree.

I listened to an interview with Jean Vanier this morning on Krista Tippet's “On Being” Podcast. In his vision for L'Arche he sees community that is free from competition and filled with welcoming and tenderness and touch that is neither sexualitied or aggressive. Many consider him a living saint as his work in the world has broken down barriers between society and the severely disabled and opened a new (old?) vision for humanity.

Competition is humanity's way to grab hold of the life that we are terrified of losing. We fear ultimate death and therefore need to exercise some power, often competitive in nature, that helps us seize that which we never quite control. We are born frail and fight in competition for a life of control.

What is liberating about hearing Vanier – and I couldn't help desire to be like him as I listened – is how he embraces such a non possessive posture toward everything. Even with the model for his community, he has had people seek the template to replicate L'Arche across the world, and this too he resists. Although there are many L'Arche communities across the world, he insists in their smallness and that they are not the solution, but a sign to a world embroiled in competition and fear of an alternative vision for the human experience. This I can resonate with.

What would the Christian walk look like if it was free from all competition for a while? Would we relinquish even the need to live the extraordinary Cristian life, even with the best intentions? Perhaps Richard Rhor's questions for daily self examination can help us along the way?

  • How much did I compare myself to others today?
  • How much did I try to compete with others today?
  • How much did I try to control others today?

 

Dust and Dreams


“You could not perceive,
how to be
Just rest in this and I will
give you eyes to see
In dust is hope,
just so you know
And I will pull you through
if you let go…
Dust and dreams….”

 

 

There is a frail and fine line that separates our dreams from dust. Although we would like to think they are worlds apart, in reality it is quite the opposite. In fact, we tend to believe things are just fine and we fight to hold on to our dreams, even when our realities are crumbling. Coming to terms with the reality of dust is too overwhelming for us, so we create illusions and get in bed with denial to maintain our dreams.

What is dust? Is it shattered dreams, a failing marriage? Death? I think it's all of those and ultimately we spend our lives building castles in the sand that we think will stand the test of time free from dust, but they don't. Although we long to live forever, our lives, it seems, are fashioned toward eventual dust. Many realize a foretaste of dust in the shattering of dreams along the way. Suffering, in this sense, is part of the human experience. Lament and loss are realities that we need to learn to live with. This is hard to bear and in the thick of it, dust is a substance that wont let us see past it. Dust is disorienting.

In a cloud of dust, if you try and clear it by flailing, you will fail and go mad. With every attempt to escape dust, we stir up more and cause increased suffering for ourselves. Our impulse is to fight it, to plan an escape, to find an answer for why we are in it, or how we will get out. It's futile. The dust has a way of razing our wills along with our lives. Dust demands we wait… until it settles, until the smoke clears, until we are transformed by it. Waiting in the dust gives hope a chance to work its way in.

Most people fear the dust because it represents the greatest loss of the hope we had. Dust is death. Fortunately there is a rumour circulating out there about a God that conquered dust and death. Rumour has it that the way out is through waiting in the dust and calling on the one that saves – calling in agony and despair – for this lament is honest and real. In the right time, new hope enters our dust in the form of a loving God to reveal new possibilities. Whether its the dust of broken dreams or death itself, God is the one who takes the dust and fashions new hope that leads to joy and a restored future. This is the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Be hopeful, even if its dusty where you are.

Have a listen to a song called “Dust” by Hope and Social that has gripped me this last week. http://music.hopeandsocial.com/track/dust-3

 

Christmas tree farm….

 

We spent the afternoon going to the tree farm. It's a tradition our family has had since before our children were born. For us, this day and the first Sunday of Advent officially ushers in the Christmas season for us.

The kids had a blast romping through the rows of trees as their aunt chased them laughing to no end. The kids get a kick out of her because the majority of the time includes hearty belly laughs and a silliness that I think most long for but are too self conscious to embrace. Signs of the kingdom, perhaps?

 

It's days like these that I often think about the story of Christmas. I look for opportunities to talk with my kids about it and the significance of God coming to us cloaked in our skin. I asked my eldest daughter what her greatest hope was as a result of Christmas. She said “no more war”. I like that. She then told me how God would take weapons and make instruments out of them. It's a gift having a daughter like her. I feel blessed beyond comprehension.

We put the lights up on the tree and are looking forward to finishing our Christmas decorations tomorrow.

May God draw your hearts near to him this Christmas.

 

Remember the Grace that is your life…

…and the God that holds you in his hand.

Remember the way in which you were spared,

from the slavery of¬†Pharaoh in Egypt’s land.

Remember the hope lavished upon you at Sinai,

of God’s provision and abundance,

his leadership and care, his dream.

Remember that God made you alive,

and shook you awake from the empire’s lull.

To behold the newness of tomorrow, and a new beginning,

of the common good for all

In God’s Kingdom coming.¬†

 

From our family to yours, we pray these words for you. Have a blessed new year and remember the grace that is your life and the hope you are called to. Happy New Year