The need for survival grips us from all directions. The next bill must be paid. The next meal must be eaten. The next breath must be taken. The drive to survive never stops even though the realm may differ from person to person. Many around the world are in a daily hunt for food, water and shelter.
Most people in the Western world have secured such necessities, but are still in survival mode. They feel the pressure monthly to pay the mortgage, the growing tab on their credit cards, and the new dance leotard and baseball glove. They have no realistic expectation of homelessness, thirst or starvation, but feel like they are just getting by, still living hand to mouth or pay check to pay check.
Ironically, many of the people who have amassed great piles of achievement, money, and possession still worry about losing their possessions. The stock market could crash, they could lose their job, the next real estate bubble could pop or their company could be cannibalized by the new competition that is leaner, more innovative, smarter, and connects better with the culture. Better stay one step ahead or one cannot survive. The predator could be unleashed at any time, and you better be ready. It is odd seeing the people who have it all, but can’t enjoy it. They are sitting on the boat dock with a scotch in hand, wondering why they cannot enjoy life. Why do they feel like they are just existing, but not living? Where is the joy and the satisfaction in the things they achieved? They have everything, but can only enjoy it until the new wears off. Then they are back to just taking another breath. They have moved from survival to existing. All of that effort for not much gain. Alive, but not living.
Surviving is not Living
One cannot escape the instinct to survive. It is bred into humanity. It has kept humanity in existence. Humanity has been cursed with the drive to survive and avoid death. Individually one survives by the sweat of ones brow. The human race survives by the pains of child birth. Cursed with surviving, but never living.
People were created for living, at least initially. Humanity’s first setting was in a garden. To be completely honest, a garden does not really excite me. My granny made me work in her garden. I wouldn’t consider it fun at all, much less pleasurable. My father owned a small farm in Pelzer, South Carolina. It was his adolescent homestead. When dad came in my room on Saturday morning and shouted, “Boy, get your blue jeans on,” I knew I wasn’t in for a fun day. The nickname my father actually gave our small little farm was Hell. This little farm earned its reputation for having an eversion for rain and being oppressively hot. Dad probably called it that subconsciously, due to the nightmare of his up bringing.
The Garden Was A Starting Point
When I first read about a garden, I don’t shout hallelujah. So one must keep in mind that the garden was a starting point. It was a home base so to speak. The garden was God’s road sign that said, “Your focus will never be survival. You’ll only focus on living.” How does a garden say this? It was the starting point. The garden was as bad as it was ever going to be, and it was paradise! It was all progress from there.
The garden must be understood within the context of the command to be fruitful and multiply. There was also the command to subdue and rule over the earth and everything that’s within it. The garden says you’ll never fight to survive. The command escorts humanity into God-sized living. You’re made in my image, therefore act like me: create, build, plan, achieve, think, dream, do, rest and celebrate. In other words: LIVE! Humanity was made to live in a perpetual renaissance. The command to subdue the earth is the command to expand the Kingdom of God on earth. There is a garden, no need to survive, just live to the fullest. Develop the garden into a city, then turn the city into a kingdom.
Most know that humanity fell. The devil lied and man died. God told man if you eat of this fruit, then you will die. When I was a little brat in Sunday School, I would give my teachers my personal commentary on the subject. Adam and Eve ate the fruit, but they didn’t fall over dead. My conclusion, “God lied.”
Yet my conversion would not allow me to take that position any more. So I just accepted they died spiritually. I went with the safe answer. I think that’s true, but that’s not the whole story. If death is the absence of life, then anyone who is not living is dead. The fall and the curse following sets a new era into motion. A transition has taken place. Life is no longer about living. Life is now about surviving, and as humanity clings to survival, we exist, but we no longer live. Unlimited faith, vision and potential is replaced with fear. Humanity is now dead.
Generations upon generations fearfully exist and survive. These generations find themselves trapped in a cycle of grasping for temporary securities and trite pleasures that results in meager existing not robust living. Routinely they are left unsatisfied and longing for more.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
Now fast forward 5 thousand years and two cousins pop in on the scene preaching a wild message. John the baptist and Jesus have a new message, “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The same kingdom the Father wanted expanded from the garden is now in reach. John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ are preaching and expecting people to bring that kingdom into their lives, families and sphere of influence. They’re preaching to think and behave like this kingdom is already here.
They were asking us to change our operating system. I personally use an apple computer. Apple has its own operating system, but if a person desires, a Mac can run a windows operating system. One computer two different operating systems. Jesus and John the Baptist were telling us to change our operating system. Their message was repent! Repentance is a change of heart and mind that leads to change in direction. When John and Jesus were asking people to repent they were telling them to change their operating system. Humanity is operating on one system, but one needs to work on another operating system. You are to live in the coming kingdom, and it is getting here so fast it is already within your reach.
To live in this kingdom requires change of heart and mind. One must change ones thinking. Our old operating system is built on the concept of surviving and limited resources. The new operating system is built on life and unlimited resource, power and creativity. It’s a return to garden thinking. It is acting on the image of God within us. Garden thinking and truly living does not sound that hard. This repentance should be no big deal. Yet it is relatively difficult for two reasons: 1. No one is living in the garden; 2. The chains of survival instinct bind people tighter than anyone could ever imagine. Yet John and Jesus still call out, “Change your operating system!”
As we continue this series we’ll look at how to change our survival operating system onto a Kingdom operating system.
A New Book is Coming!!!
After almost 8 years my second book will be coming out soon. The good news is if you enjoyed these thoughts, they’re excerpts from my upcoming book that’s in the process of being published now. Hopefully it will be out by Christmas, but more realistically by March.
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