I have never before been this interested in the affairs of this world. Maybe it’s simply because I’m heading towards my mid-thirties and all of a sudden I find myself intrigued by the societal issues of the day. You know, I survived puberty and got through my self-obsessed twenties and now I care about others.
Here’s another suggestion: I suspect the reason is rather that the world in which we live is changing so rapidly (and in directions I never would have imagined) that all that transpires is simply so intriguing.
Who would have thought the conservative, pot-stirrer Donald Trump would become President of the United States?
Who would have thought that our understanding of human sexuality would be a topic so divisive that social media would be in constant meltdown?
Who would have thought migration would be one of the top humanitarian issues of our day?
Who would have thought Australia would be turning over prime ministers faster than I can consume cheeseburgers?
Who would have conceived of BREXIT two years ago?
Who would have thought that we would still be discussing the difference in pay rates between men and women in the year twenty-seventeen?
Who would have thought Australian Politicians would clutch at any idea they can conceive to stabilise the Australian economy?
Suffice to say, I am intrigued, concerned, perplexed, confused and helpless. What can I do to make a difference? How could I possibly create change in this world?
A guy named Zac
Then I came across a story of a guy named Zac.
Zac was a man who reminded me of my childhood.
When I was young, I used to visit my Great Grandma Ruby. My mother would visit every week, spend time doing the laundry, and would finally sit down with Grandma with a cup of tea and watch a little bit of The Days of our Lives. I am certain that show was not axed sooner because of my Grandma’s love for watching.
As they both sat there reminiscing about old relatives and flicking through photo albums, I would head outside. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There was a tree by the front gate of the property that was perfect for climbing.
I was a young child, and without a safety indemnity form in sight, I would climb that tree. Three metres off the ground, I would look around the property and smell the flora and fauna. I could see the landscape well from up there. I could see Grandma in the distance, through the window, chatting to her heart’s content. I could see cars in the distance, cramming their way through the narrow street. I would sing a couple of songs. I loved sitting up on that tree.
That brings me back to Zac. Zacchaeus, as he was better known in his day, was a chief tax collector, who heard Jesus Christ of Nazareth was passing by his area. He was a short-man, so he climbed a tree. In the midst of the crowd, the only way he could see Jesus was to climb the sycamore-fig tree nearby.
This story (found in the Gospel of Luke) gives me some comfort in attempting to make sense of all the uncertainty in our world. I need to climb a tree, so to speak, and gain perspective. I read the status updates of random acquaintances on Facebook and scroll through my Twitter feed and I end up feeling like Zacchaeus, trying to find God in the midst of a bustling crowd.
The only way to gain perspective is to metaphorically climb a tree. Call it mindfulness or prayer or meditation if you like, but the point is to gain a perspective from the Lord; a perspective I would not necessarily have if I simply listened to the myriad of voices in the crowd.
Climb that tree
We surely must gain God’s perspective on matters of this world. There is debate to be had, and issues to wrestle with, but we must lift up our eyes beyond the proverbial political slandering, verbal abuse on social media and the tea-room gossip sessions.
Focusing on ‘What would Jesus do?’ or ‘How would Jesus respond?’, might appear to be cliché, but are nonetheless helpful in wading our way through populist views and ascertaining the very heartbeat of God.
We need God’s perspective.
So climb a tree.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of Business and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith.
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html