A few weeks ago Judith had a dream as well as some insights about the dream that are worth sharing.
As I was waking this morning, I was coming out of a dream which, although strangely mixed in its images, seemed to contain a depth of meaning.
In the dream, Colin and I were visiting a certain place and seeking to minister together there. There seemed to be some confusion around what was expected of us but we also were puzzled as to how to move forward and who was to do what. The man we were working with made an attempt to focus our time together with three steps/ideas/actions in order to move forward. The ideas didn’t seem practical to Colin but I was at least able to see where this leader was coming from.
Then my perspective changed and I was looking in on a scene as the three of us chatted in an outdoor setting. The man’s attention was drawn to a tree just behind us. As I turned and looked at the tree, it was tall and healthy, laden with fresh gum leaves, and absolutely jam-packed with koalas. They were all young healthy males with brightly-coloured youthful coats and no sign of disease. I turned to the man we were working with and said, “They are all males. It’s the new breeding stock. We need to start again with new breeding stock to get rid of the diseases transmitted by in-breeding.”
That was the end of my dream.
This dream made sense to me as we live in Redland City, once known for its vibrant, healthy koala population. You would never see a tree full of young male koalas as they are territorial and fiercely guard their territory. However I immediately sensed the meaning of the dream. Just near our front door we have a number of tall, majestic gum trees which koalas like and every year a couple of koalas are active in these trees. We love to have them around, to see one scampering across a driveway or climbing a tree or sleeping in a fork way up in the branches. But to us they are cute, interesting, easily photographed, topics of conversation. My neighbour who has lived her whole life in the area, sees and understands much more. She’ll say, “There’s a young koala running around. It’s a male but it’s diseased.” This means we should report it to authorities because it will continue to spread disease and contribute to the demise of this now endangered species, severely impacted by disease from loss of habitat, loss of numbers and inbreeding. Foolishly, we balk at reporting it, fearing it might be put down, and to us it’s still cute and brings some pleasure and a sense of doing our part by not cutting our trees down.
But we are wrong. The koalas will disappear from our city if drastic action is not taken. We need new breeding stock uncontaminated by the genetic inheritance of the last 50 years. The current line is doomed to annihilation. And the new breeding stock needs an open fresh environment in which to freely move, grow, feed and reproduce. What has been will not suffice!
So what does this have to do with discipleship?
We Need New Breading Stock
We are largely bred into the practices of late modernity which have mostly been inadequate in producing a next generation of young healthy reproducing disciples of Jesus. New breeding stock is needed, fresh, passionate, untainted by the reduced church environment and practice of the 20th century. We need to breed the disease of discipleship complacency out of the existing church by embracing and forming new disciples beyond the enculturation processes of the institutional church.
Are we game enough to do it? What are we willing to sacrifice? How strongly are we dictated to by our current levels of comfort, wealth and conformity to culture?