The following is contributed by a B4T worker in the Middle East
Sustainability is all the rage at the moment. Everything is about sustainability, and the Church has bought into all the hype. Sustainability has its advantages and its necessity in our lives, but it is not the only consideration for how we should live our lives. For example, most social justice ministries will never become sustainable and yet they are clearly close to the heart of God. God is a giver and an investor. We must give sometimes to causes that aren’t sustainable from a financial standpoint, but if they are reproducible, they will still be worth our time. Reproducibility is, perhaps, a more important word for today. So, how are we reproducing for generations to come?
In Genesis 21:33, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree. You may be thinking, “so what?” To answer this, let’s dig in a bit to the context:
22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.” – Genesis 21:22-24
Tamarisk trees are what we would call salt cedar trees in North America. The interesting thing about these trees, though, is that one would never plant them for oneself – they take a few generations to even be able to provide shade because they grow very slowly. They are a symbol of commitment for the long term – in Abraham’s case, to a covenant.
We need to be thinking generationally. We cannot afford to think only in terms of our own lives. As followers of Jesus and B4T’ers, we must be looking at who we should be investing our time in, and who God may be leading to lead their local fellowships after we are long gone. Just as we forecast cash flows into the future, we need to be thinking down the road a bit. If we think several generations ahead, we will be on solid ground. Whatever we do in life is stopped dead in its tracks when we die, unless we pass it on to others. In the same way, we should always be discipling people who will be making disciples so that many multiples of disciples are continually being reproduced. If we think linearly, we will not go very far. If we think exponentially, there is far more room to grow. Given that our lives are to be spent building His Kingdom, we want to spend them on reproducible things so that the Kingdom continues to expand exponentially.
So, what tamarisk trees are you planting for future generations?