10-40 Window, Competing individual rights, Creator Sets Free, Forgotten heritage of faith, I am born with obligations, I am not the centre of the galaxy, National Indigenous Peoples Day, Personhood vs Individuality, Retelling the Good Story, Ubuntu
This National Indigenous Peoples Day we may reflect on the current conflict of competing individual rights in contrast to our personal obligations for the common good.
Indeed this is the distinction between what it means to be an individual (self defined, self referenced, and self contained) and a person (a person is a person in relation, in community, mindful of the larger world of the Creator). It may well be expressed in the Zulu word Ubuntu: “I am because we are.”
For more on understanding personhood see: “Being as Communion“.
Thus it is a sad commentary on modern day western church that loudly protests in order to protect what they think are their individual rights and religious freedoms at the expense of who they’ve forgotten to protect: their neighbour, their community, and their safe place to communicate the good news of restoration with the Creator.
In all these protests and the conflict of competing individual rights – the gospel is lost. It is as if certain modern western Christians have forgotten the Christ who had no place to lay his head, who gave all he had, and who was unjustly crucified.. for our sake.
Not so for our two thirds world Christians; not so for the 150 million or more Chinese Christians who endure disadvantage; not so for those Christ-followers hunted down in the 10-40 Window, and not so for our Indigenous Christ-followers who thankfully remind us of where the true centre is.
Yes we are born with obligations
In Mark 7 Jesus laces into the most scholarly and religious folk of His day by criticizing the practice of withholding legitimate obligation of taking care of one’s parents in favour of a false obligation to prop up one’s reputation as a religious leader. In Matthew 23 Jesus gives what are known as the “Seven Woes”:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Yes we are born with obligations: we are not to neglect the more important matters of the ultimate telos law of the Universe: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.
Remembering what has been forgotten
Who ever wrote the opening note above gave credit to Cherokee elder Stan Rushworth, but I give credit to Professor James Houston and a host of thoughtful Christian thinkers who have been reminding the west of her forgotten heritage – loving your neighbour for the common good – something to which Indigenous peoples apparently have kept connection despite the colonizing pressures of disconnection.
We are being reminded that we are displaced as the centre of one’s own galaxy in favour of the common good.
We are finding that the true centre is the One who made us for Himself.
We are obligated to others to serve the past, present, and future generations, and the planet itself.
One of my obligations is to retell the good story:
Below is a film based on the First Nations Version New Testament and developed in partnership with Terry M. Wildman. Learn more at https://firstnationsversion.com/jesus…
It begins with a day and a night with “Creator Sets Free” – the Indigenous name for Jesus.