I’ve just begun the reading group going through David Bosch’s book “Transforming Mission”. His widow Annemie may be the wisest old woman on the planet. My friend Tom Smith is in it, and he’s just a walking brain. Our friend Cobus is leading it, and he did most of his graduate work researching all things David Bosch wrote. It’s the most perfect set up for reading this book. I don’t take it lightly the privilege I have to be with these beautiful people.
Today, as I was finishing up the final prep work on the house to be ready to move in tomorrow, I looked at the newly installed fence and razor wire (barbed wire) and couldn’t help but shed a few tears. I looked around at my neighbor’s homes, which also had the same type of fencing installed, but felt like in some ways I had given in to this South African mentality of fear and mistrust of others. What does it say to my neighbors that I won’t move in until there’s razor wire on my wall? BUT, in the same breath, what’s the line between protecting my family, being wise, and being hospitable and loving to all mankind?
Back to the reading group. As I was sharing some of these thoughts with the group the other day, I was thrusted into a reality that Bosch discussed in his first chapter. In it he says that the early Christians (and Jesus for that matter) didn’t come to establish a utopian society. The disciples didn’t save the world in one quick swoop through Europe. In other words, I am not the Messiah, and it is not my calling to form a perfect society. RATHER, it is my duty to know those God brings into my life, love them deeply, and help shape the kingdom way of life with each individual I come into contact with. In a sense, utopia comes in small pockets but never in an entire surrounding all at once nor by one individual.
As my friend Tom told me after the book discussion, “you can have razor wire and a crazy security fence and STILL be the most hospitable family on the block”. Friends, it’s this tension we live in that reminds us that we are sensitive to the things of God in the world. It’s realizing that we live in the world where the kingdom of God has come near, but is not fully here. Tension is the here but not yet… and as we wait for the kingdom to become full, we must deal with the things that are wise, protect our family, but do not hide behind our fences. We all must embrace these constant tensions lest we succumb to the status quo lifestyle of getting more than we’ll ever need while others go without every day. This is a healthy tension to live in and it draws us closer to the heart of God who wants His kingdom to come every day in every place.
I still hate the fence though.