Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Joshua: Always "us"; never "me"

As an individualistic North America its hard to think about community. In my city, young teens rarely have curfews because parents don't want to infringe on their rights. Students at my university miss meetings routinely because of how they feel. Small groups rarely stay together for long. Its hard to think about the effect we have on others when we are so focused on self.

Yet an obscure story in Joshua reminded me that this is not the norm nor is it the way that the Father thinks. In Joshua 22, when a couple of tribes built an altar that others interpreted falsely as pagan worship, the leaders of Israel implored the supposed offenders to repent because of the consequences it would have for the nation. They never spoke of consequences for the offenders only. They cited historical references where the entire nation suffered due to the poor decisions of a few.  Maybe they were not considered guilty for the decisions of others but the consequences overflowed. A child might not be guilty of his father's drunkenness but he definitely suffers from the consequences.

So what does that look like today? How many consequences do I bring into the lives of others because of the decisions I make? What does it imply for family, small groups and my working environment? And what does it imply about those bad days when nothing seems to go right in the family, group or work? Maybe my individualism interprets the consequences I suffer from the decisions of others as the results of my actions rather than theirs? Maybe I don
't even understand suffering because of my selfish individualism?

Its a thought that we don't entertain much as North Americans where we believe everyone is an island. Yet the worldview I see in scripture is less island culture and more village culture. We are intricately intertwined.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad we're not an island. I like being part of your village!

Lisa said...

I appreciate your thoughts, Gary. Donnie and I are reminded daily of the consequences that children must face because of their parents' poor choices.
Mobility in our culture has also had its effects. It takes a "sharing of life" to build community, and frequent moves can create an island effect. It's easy to go through life, thinking that one's actions don't really impact others, and then as everyone is "doing their own thing," community disappears and the culture declines.
It's important to keep our eyes open to the people around us who need community. It's not THAT hard - if we'll just slow down and notice. Thank you for this reminder.

Gary L Green said...

Thanks for the comment, Lisa. Like you said, I think slowing down is the key; unfortunately, that is not part of our cultural values.