The Spiritual Ecosystem
I have a confession to make. I’m a junkie. National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian TV, Blue Planet, Planet Earth–I could watch documentaries about the ocean and nature on any given day. Perhaps it’s because I always feel so at home when I’m outdoors. Maybe it’s because I love a sport that requires me to pay attention to so many things (water temp, clarity, current, sunlight, structure, cover, feeding patterns). Someone asked me why I love fishing so much and I told them that it was the complexity of figuring out what the pattern will be to trigger a reaction from the fish.
That said, I have been enamored with scuba diving, reef health, natural resources, and the environment since I was a kid. The one thing I have learned is this: everything is connected. (Don’t start humming “Circle of Life” in your mind!) What happens with rainwater affects plant growth. The oceans affect the weather. Weather affects our ability to breath, drink, eat, and survive. We’re all connected, and that connection is core to our thriving.
I believe that we live in a SPIRITUAL ECOSYSTEM, too. Our past experiences (good and bad) shape our expectations. Our previous relationships tend to color our future relationships. Language, attitude, integrity and credibility, and a host of emotional qualities all shape our understanding of God. Even our culture and history can shape how we understand God and how we respond. And these are not just about the culture of the church. It’s bigger than that. It’s about the way we work and how we integrate faith into our work, how we do our work with excellence, and how all of our relationships coalesce to build our community.
Paul once said, “To the Jew I became a Jew. To the Gentile I became a Gentile. I have become all things to all men that I might win some.” Years ago, when I was serving in Australia, I had to carefully evaluate my own nationalism and decide something important: Jesus was more precious to me than my country. As much as I loved my own country, Jesus was bigger, greater. So, I could be a Jesus-Follower in that country, because Jesus wasn’t an American idea. He was not a European idea. I’m grateful for my heritage, but Jesus is BIGGER than my heritage. I’m grateful for my state, but Jesus is bigger than my state.
So, as I celebrate with fireworks and family and patriotism, all of these are part of my spiritual ecosystem, but above and through and beyond all of this, Jesus is supreme. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” What I learned as a small child is still the greatest truth of my life. It shapes my own spiritual ecosystem!