Context

So…here’s a question…and I’m really serious about this…does context change behavior?

Take for example a student in the ghetto. Quite often parents who dream of their children “amounting to something more” will pay extrordinary amounts to bus them out of their present reality and into another–where they will be more exposed to new thought, new stimulation, and new opportunities. And there’s a some controversy about this–but generally speaking it’s accepted. New context can PROMOTE (but not guarantee new behavior).

The topic comes up in my Learning Theory class quite often. And I wonder. How far do we take this notion? What about “growing where you’re planted”? I don’t know…truly…what do you think?

Oh…and let me throw this in…are some spiritual contexts more condusive to applying God’s Good Dream than others? Or are contexts neutral?

Early This Morning…

Early this morning I wrote these thoughts down, maybe you share them too.

“The titles Savior and Lord feel like abstract words to me–I long to discover you as Rabbi, Teacher, Master, and friend.
Steal my breath at a glance–and I want to see it–not just feel something in my stomach like indigestion or warm fuzzies–but a glance, your look that melted Peter…

So I’m looking for you once more–knowing that there is more. Digging through the pages of your biographies watching your feet and the movements of your mouth. Yours is a higher Life and a deeper Life…but it’s you life. Why do we, why have I, so often detached your Life from your living–message, ministry, and mission?  I think it’s safer that way. If I can detach you from your attitudes and actions, from your body (ha! Imagine the disembodied floating Head of Christ trying to touch a blind man or holding a little child), then I don’t have to take my own living so seriously. REPEAT: if I don’t take your living: message, ministry and mission, seriously, then I don’t have to take my own living seriously either!

But I’m serious. I’m a seed planted in your soil-MASTER FORM ME! Grow me deeper than I know or really even imagine.

Lord I don’t want to be a believer anymore–someone who adheres to some vague list of mental or emotional thoughts and feelings I should have.

I want to be your disciple. Your apprentice. Just like Peter and James and John. Just like Paul told the church “imitate me as I imitate Christ” and  “follow in my pattern”.  Disciple. Apprenctice of the way of Jesus in the 21st century.

Master, master. Take me on. Take me on. Teach me. Tell me what to say. How to say it. What to do. How to do it. Take me on.

What would it look like in my life if I took what you say and do, seriously?  What if I took you seriously for a year?

Bizarre. Not that I would…but that I haven’t.

Master…take me on.

Where are you staying? I ask.  Come and see. You say.

Simple Enough?

Five years ago three of us loaded ninety pound backpacks and departed on a trek descending into a canyon surrounded lake basin at the foot of Mt. St. Helens…it was three miles of living hell.  Ever carry ninety pounds of canned food, camp stoves, chairs and tables?  It’s agony. Then add the ashy soil causing us to slip and slide (and in my case tumble)…like I said…living hell… And I’ll never forget the last five minutes as I began to see the site we were heading for come into view.  The lake was shimmering. The ground was level.  We all began to run headlong towards our goal.  As we did, the backpacks–those burdens of fishing gear and nifty neccesities–came off.  We threw off our constraints.  Collapsing by the lake, panting, and finally at rest.

But that is a clear picture in my mind of casting off uneccesary burdens.  I mean, did we really NEED the camping card table?  Did we really need the oversized can of back pork n’beans?  Did we need waders and tubes and 3 extra fly rods?  Hardly.  And actually everything beyond our immediate needs just added to our weight…our hardship…our burden, which by the end of the road, we were glad to lay down.

How often do you suppose we do that?  I suspect our lives are governed by this uneccesary burdening.  The truth is things are far from simple enough.

In order to stimulate thought and honest consideration here’s some questions that a small group I am meeting with (called Kingdom Economics) are asking ourselves, we took them from a book by John Michael Talbot called “The Lessons of St. Francis” .

Dealing with simplicity in general

1) Do I have some possessions that complicate my life but don’t really bring me any enjoyment?

2) What are some things that do bring me enjoyment but may not be worth the cost in time, money and concern?

3) Do I buy things that I don’t need, won’t use, or can’t afford?

4) What do I really need, and what do I merely want?

5) Am I consuming more than my fair share of the world’s limited resources? What am I doing to help those who are less fortunate than myself? Is there some of my surplus that could benefit others who have less?

Food

  Walk around your kitchen, look in your cupboards and nose around your refrigerator. Then ask yourself these questions:

1) Do I regularly buy things that I don’t eat, waste or throw away?

2) How many varieties of cereal, soup, spice, or mustard do I really need? (I was horrified to discover that I own 5 different types of mustard…ick)

3) Is my diet balanced and healthy? Do i eat enough fruits and vegetables? Am I consuming too much fat and too many calories, while starving myself of protein and nutrients?

4) Are there ways I can spend less to get more nutrition?

Clothing

Look in your closets and drawers. Count the number of pants (or skirts) you have. Now count shirts, sweaters, and shoes.  Ask the following questions:

1) When was the last time you wore some of the items you posses? When do you plan to wear them again? Could they better benefit someone else?

2) What colors accentuate the color of your hair, eyes, and complexion? Can you base your wardrobe around these colors?

3) How can you build a basic wardrobe that can be adapted easily to a multitude for social and professional settings instead of having complete wardrobes for every moment of your life (and I would add for every mood swing we may have)?

Shelter

Walk in and around your house or apartment and take the following inventory:

1) How much space do I and other family members really need? Will we need more or less space in the future? (The average American household size has divided neatly in half since 1950 from 6 to 3.5…the average American house has more than doubled into the 5 Bedroom/ 3.5 bathroom 3000 squarefoot sprawling monsters that dominate the flooded glut of a market…why more space with less people? More stuff…bigger barns for more of our hay–our at least more of our chaff)

2) Do I look at my house as a shelter, or is it a status symbol designed to impress neighbors, family and friends?

3) Are there possessions in our house that we don’t use and only cramp our living space? Can we get rid of these and avoid buying more unnecessary stuff?”

These are just some questions dealing with simplicity.  Of course they’re not for everyone…not everyone would listen…but I love what the Potter Street Community has to say about simplicity (a life style choice those who live in their community are obliged to make):

We are not driven by simplicity (or we still serve money), but we are committed to love, which demands simplicity. That’s it…love demands simplicity…so is that simple enough?

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