Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ah Nuts… It is Easier to be a 2009 Christian

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Today’s Blog Post
Ah Nuts… It is Easier to be a 2009 Christian
The Hadza People of Tanzania

My world and the world of the Hadza People could not be any further apart.

In the last few days I have been reading further into this unique culture that is still alive in the remote region of Africa, and Tanzania specifically.

From what I have found they are possibly are related to the Pygmy Groups of Africa like the Mbuti and Baka people with a Bantu admixture (see reference below). They live near Lake Eyasi in a part of the Rift Valley that runs across Africa from south to north.

One of the writer’s material that I read stated that these people lived as if they are one huge camping trip all of their lives.

The unique part of reading about them is the remoteness of their existence in a world that is quickly becoming modernized.

The area that they live has Cell Phone capabilities. If you have a Cell Phone you can call anywhere. Yet the Hadza do not know what a Cell Phone nor do they have any use for it.

The Hadza have no medical help nor any need for a hospital. From what I read there were two methods of dealing with medical emergencies – You Lived or You Died. And when the person dies they simply bury the body and move on with daily life. There is no great emotional separation from that one… death is a fact of life. In fact none of the Western Ways of doing anything is their way.

Strip away everything that you do during the day except gathering food, eating food, sleeping(whenever you want to), and the most basic body functions – and you could be a Hadza.

Now there are some parents that will swear that their teenage son is a Hadza at this stage… and their main task is to civilize the teenager.

Because the Hadza is so remote and unattractive to be with few Westerners make this a tourist place.

One of articles written stated that the Hadza deal with body odor in their own way. The men feel that if their woman baths as few times as possible – maybe only two times a year – they are more desirable.

You will not find clean freak tourist pushing into a Hadza camp to buy trinkets. But then Hadza people don’t make trinkets nor meet tourists. Hadza people have no desire for material things at all. They own nothing except the killing implements that are needed to get their meal.

As I read this amazing story I could help but think that this may well have been how our own Aboriginal People might have been before the then civilized world made contact with them and moved in to be neighbors – bringing them beads and trinkets and all kinds of stuff that they could learn to hoard… the same as we do.

Christmas and gift giving that we know as part of our culture could not be more remote from the Hadza.

I am not promoting that we all start living like the Hadza people. But a readjustment of priorities might be a startling revelation for most of my world.

I mean if I stripped away all the “stuff” that I have… got rid of all of it… would I be less of a person? I certainly would have less “stuff” but I would still be a person. Wouldn’t I?

If I didn’t buy any gifts this for Christmas – would I be less of a person?

If my life was stripped of the building I live in and the buildings that I seem to need so desperately to feel good… or orientated… would my personhood be jeopardized?

If I didn’t walk through the Mall this year at least one time to buy some “stuff” – would my life be threatened?

If I couldn’t get into a church building this Christmas time – would my life turn upside down?

One simple thought that grabbed me as we walked through the new Mall in our city lately… Jesus and his disciples never gave Christmas Gifts… they never had a Christmas Tree… never ate a Turkey Dinner… and for the most part never did any of the stuff that my world does.

Yet we celebrate Jesus’ Birthday with the December 25th… and do all kinds of weird things in the Celebration that even Jesus would know about if he was here.

Our Christmas Celebration and all that we do are as remote from the original story and reason for it as… MY World and Culture is from the Hadza People.

Some of the words that Jesus spoke to a Rich Young Ruler that was asking about membership in the newly formed “Christ Following Activity Club”… were simple… “Here’s what you need to do to follow me… take everything you have a sell it… give half of the sales to the poor... then come and follow me….”

Can you imagine the struggle that the Rich Young Ruler had at that moment of realization that his possible new faith or life change would cost him everything?

This morning I will be attending our church to worship Jesus. We will sing songs about Jesus and talk to him. We will shake hands with each other because we are given sometime to do that… some will smile at each other. It is Christianity at Northview Pentecostal Church.

The building was erected in 1980 to help people worship God better. It cost $1,350,000. People didn’t have all the money at that time so they borrowed it – lots of it… in fact that was the amount that they borrowed… and owed in 1980.

When I joined the congregation in 1998 they still owed $1,350,000 – after 18 years of paying and paying and paying and paying. In fact with the 20% Interest rates of the 1980s they paid $1,000,000 in the first four years. Then they paid $1,000,000 more Interest in the next five years. Then from what I could glean from all that I read they paid at least another $1,000,000 in Interest in the next nine years… and the Mortgage money owed was the same after 18 years.

Now after 27 years the church owes around $749,000. In my period of leading and pastoring the church we paid down a big chunk.

I was delighted to hear last Sunday that a new plan has been launched to pay down and off the Mortgage and it will only take 18 more years to get rid of it.

All told that is only 45 years to pay off the Mortgage in the end.

I am a retired pastor of this church I attend. I accepted the debt load when I arrived and addressed it faithfully for 10 years. Now I will add more of my own money to help the debt disappear some day soon.

I write of the church debt to point out how complicated my Christianity has become from what Jesus first told his followers.

I am bugged by one thought that comes back often… it is a nagging one… “the debt of the church was not paid off because of your leadership…” I cringe when that thought comes by…

But then God whispers… “there are other reasons that I am dealing with… and it was there before you came… I will take care fo it…”.

Some how I would like to become a little more like a Hadza… all except the smell, the bugs, the food, the no furniture, no Mortgage… and no Payments… and no Interest…, the lack of a car, the lack of a Cell Phone, the lack of a Mall, and I do love the Christmas Tree… and Christmas Presents… and…

Ah nuts… it is easier to be a 2009 Christian!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

PS - This is My 500th Posting to this Blog.  Wahoooo!


1 comment:

David Grant said...

And if everyone walked away from the debt would they be any worse off as Christians. They could meet in homes and actually get to know each other. Fascinating our love affair with buildings and yet not a single word is spoken about buildings in the NT. oops Stephen got stoned for talking about people trusting their temple and I think Jesus put the people's trust in the temple in a rather poor light as well.

I think God has already shown us what He thinks of building programs in Genesis 11.

Oh and isn't it fascinating that we would expect a new convert to completely change their lifestyle to come and help pay off someone else's debt. Isn't that part of what you want to have happen when you evangelize? We literally expect them to have more maturity about willingness to except change than us.

You got love that part of the gospel that says come unto us, all you that labour and are heavy laden and help us with our debt.