Tikkun Olam Again!?

1407987080000-Ferguson-gallery-10Last month I wrote about events in Israel, and now it is hard to ignore the events here in St. Louis.

I’m sure you have heard about the racial tensions, demonstrations and looting that have taken place here in Ferguson, MO.  I’ve heard from people everywhere, here in the states and overseas, about what they have termed the “race riots” here akin to those in Los Angeles several years ago.  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have come to town, Huffington Post reporters have been detained.  The National Guard was sent to Ferguson to help.  Such mishegoss (crazyness)!

There is no question that the events leading up to the insanity were tragic.  But even more tragic is the response of people to tragedy.  Rather than allow the legal system to take its course, we would rather loot and destroy businesses in our own community, and while we’re at it, even loot a shoe store 15 miles away.  And the truly sad part is that people came to St. Louis from Detroit, Chicago and other places just to take place in the “demonstrations.”

It is further testimony to the theological truth of the depravity of man, and the folly of the Jewish philosophy of Tikkun Olam, or “repairing the world.”  One Jewish response to the events in Ferguson is called the “Weed Out Hate Initiative” where gardening becomes a metaphor for improving society by replacing weeds in public spaces in Ferguson with sunflowers.  The actual gardening that is supposed to take place is intended as a substitute physical activity to looting and rioting.  Now, while I am not opposed to sunflowers, and I’m sure they are more attractive than weeds, I’m not sure that looting and rioting is just an outlet for physical aggression that can be replaced by the constructive activity of gardening.  Again I say, there is only one way to repair the world, and that is to share the love of Jesus with people.

But the sad truth is that many of those same people who participated in violent demonstrations were in their church on Sunday.  The community in Ferguson is not ignorant to the truth of the Law.  And many in that community claim to be Christians.  Yet, some are  able to justify behavior like this.  There seems to be a disconnect.  It is the same disconnect that I run into in Christians who love the Jews, but don’t believe that they need to believe in Jesus.  It highlights the need to call those in the church to repentance and strengthen the faith of those who are believers.  It is too easy to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), be it the violence of the mob psychology, or the political correctness of “all roads lead to God.”  Both are damaging.  I praise God for many in the Church that have been transformed by the renewing of their mind, discerning God’s will.  They are working for peace in Ferguson…they are sharing their faith.  Thank you!

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com

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3 thoughts on “Tikkun Olam Again!?

  1. The symbolic act of rooting out a weed of hatred is actually a prayer to the Creator for transforming inner range and hatred into spiritual energy. During the past days, I had been clasping upon and rooting out hundreds of weeds with local residents in a unifying intention to come together. This is in the spirit of all religions and especially in Matthew 13, 36-38 and 24-30.

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    1. I don’t know very much about the concept of tikkun olam, and ask if atonement has anything to do with it. Also, I am under the impression that “olam” can mean “world” in the sense of “the age” in which we live – as well as “the age” (or “ages”?) to come. I am open to correction so I invite instruction on this matter.

      In this vain, though, I’d like to point out that the instruction of the parable is to allow the weeds, or tares, the sowing of the enemy, to remain because in their early stages they are indistinguishable from the wheat, the sowing of the Lord God. So the “weeding” is at the same time as the harvesting, the end of the age.

      I think inviting the community to participate with you in improving how it looks is laudable. Anything that gets people together in an effort to beautify their environment, a reflection of how they see themselves has at least some social good that can come out of it.

      Perhaps it could be used to get people to see the “weeds” in their own hearts, symbolic of sin; rage and hatred really are sinful. We need to be ever mindful of the fact, though, that it is only our Creator God who can replace our sinfulness with His own righteousness, and I’m sure this is what my pastor meant when he said, “…there is only one way to repair the world…”

      King Messiah is the Creator’s repair of the world.

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      1. Within each and every one of us exists a spark of the divine, connected with spiritual roots that nourish us. Ecological friendly gardening provides a wonderful metaphor as to the purpose of “weeds”. Even weeds are part of God’s creations. Once rooted and composted, they have the potential to provide us with spiritual substrate allowing our spirits to form the ultimate blossom connectors with the Creator. Rooting out a symbolic weed of hatred is a spiritual “eye for an eye” prayer that can unleash an ocean of soul cleansing tears back onto humanity.

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