Put yourself in the shoes of the king. You want to see things done in the world but the people you want to do them are just not listening. So what do you do, you find people who will listen and get them to help you see the world change in the way you want to see it changed.
Umm it is not the first time people have spurned the king’s invitations. There is a story about invitations being given to people and those who received them making all sorts of excuses why they could not respond to these invitations.
Maybe that is a bit unfair as they were more like reasons that sounded really good in the context that they were given. However as those who were originally asked to attend the banquet did not respond to the king he told his servants to go out and invite anyone who would respond.
In fact it turned out to be some very unexpected people who came to the banquet. These were people who quite honestly would have not been seen as being worth bothering with by the original guests.
As in the way of such stories they are told in such a way that the people telling them make themselves look good. They forget that it might be possible to use them to put them in the shoes of those who did not accept the invitations.
What do you mean by invitations?
The problem with a story like this is that so often we are taught a way to think about such a story. However, there are often principles hidden in the story that can be used in more than one context. When we only apply those principles to one context we can limit the effectiveness of the story.
There is more than one way that the king can bypass the people who he wants to see do things if they are not doing what he wants them to do. What if those people are not growing food in the way that the king wants them to do? Sounds strange but I have started to see this in action.
You see what has happened in the world of growing food is that we have learnt that various things work and have added fertilisers to the point where the water supply has been impacted negatively by them. We have grown food with short term benefits in mind. We have used chemicals that were developed for use against enemies in war time because the people who made them wanted to continue making them in peace time. It is as if we have wandered away from the king’s way of growing food in all sorts of ways.
So what has happened? Some people have heard the king say please look after the land better. Stop doing this and start doing that because it is better for the planet in the long term. However not all of those you would have expected to receive the invitation to reap the long term rewards for using the land have responded to it. Some of them have simply not heard or ignored the king.
What can the king do? He can ask the people who he would not ordinarily ask to work with him to improve the situation. The people who are dusty and dirty. The people who make those originally invited uncomfortable. They are the ones who are not held back by the traditions and old ways of doing things. They are the ones who are able and willing to give the new ideas a chance to work.
Who then is working with the king?
Anyone who will listen to him. Yes even those who have not made the choice to develop a relationship with the king and be adopted as his child. In fact some of those who are willing to work with him seem quite strange and have ideas and ways of doing things that are really unacceptable to the king. Crumbs they may be running away from a relationship with him or have no understanding of how to relate to him yet because they responded to the invitation to work with him they are doing what he wanted them to do.
The problem is what else was the king supposed to do. He had to find a way to get around the objections of the people he wanted to improve the world for him. He could not let their deaf ears stop the world benefiting from those ideas.
We see people using the principles of permaculture and stop and think if there are any underlying principles that makes it harder for the king’s children to get involved. Sadly often we see people whose form of spirituality is nothing at all to do with that promoted by the children of the king.
Seeing that sets warning bells ringing. We don’t want to get involved with people like that. It is scary. We don’t want to rub shoulders with people who don’t understand the spirituality of the king and who only know about spiritual experiences that make the children of the king cringe and that they shy away from.
Believe it or not the children of the king can then run further away from doing things the king’s way. This is because they now have two issues. One being that they do not understand that the king wants them to do practical things like growing food in ways that takes better care of people and of the planet. The other being that they struggle to accept these ideas because they are unsure about the spirituality of the people working hard to spread them.
One of the natural things that happen is that once people think negatively about an idea they will do everything in their power to protect others from that idea. It makes sense as if you think that something is negative or will harm people then you will want to protect them from it. That can be tough, especially in situations where people see something that is in reality good as likely to have a negative impact on others. In that situation, discouragement offered in the hope of protecting them could stop them doing something that is in reality good for them.
The sad thing about this is that it is like history repeating itself. There were people who rejected the way the king’s son did things. People who objected so vehemently that they arranged to have him killed. We have been taught by those who have the advantage of hindsight that these people got it wrong.
If we simply stepped back a little we might see that we are the ones who are rejecting the ways that the king wants things to be done. We are the ones that are continuing to do things in a way that is not acceptable to the king while those that we reject are actually doing things in a way that is acceptable to the king.
The difference between the different forms of the good news
Many of the king’s children think that the only form of the good news is the good news that the king wants them to be his children. This is the best good news of all as once you are the king’s child he will never change his choice to adopt you. OK if you decided that you no longer wanted that adoption to be recognised then he loves you too much to hold onto you against your will. The impact of that adoption goes on beyond the end of life on earth so it is not something to be handled lightly.
It sounds somewhat alien to many of the king’s children but there are other forms of good news. For example the good news of growing food in such a way that it does not harm the planet. Somehow it does not register with them that this is good news as far as the king is concerned. Such good news that he is determined to spread it even if his children reject it and then reject the people who spread it for him.
The king’s children concentrate on helping others become God’s children. It is as if they often have a one track mind. Anything else that they could do to improve the world around or the lives around them falls off their radar. Changing the world and improving the lives of those around them is too unimportant to bother with.
The sad thing is that by doing this and sticking to the ideas that seem to contradict what the king wants to see they are making it so much harder for some people to become children of the king. You see if some people could understand that they could keep these ideas in the forefront of their lives and still be a child of the king then they would be more interested in the adoption process. If they understood that these ideas are in line with what the king wanted to see done in the world then they would be interested in getting to know him better.
It is not an either or situation. The best thing is a both and situation. May the eyes of the children of the king be opened so that they can see things the way that the king does and may they do and be all that the king wants them to be and do.