Skip to content

EQUIP: Week 6 - Furthering the Flourishing of Society

“This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Week 6: Day 1 –Flourishing from God’s Perspective

“God wants his people to experience hope and to share.” – Author Unknown

Today is day one of the sixth week of our equipping experience, and up to this point, we’ve explored four of the six God-given purposes: Proclaiming the Gospel that Saves, Cultivating the Community of God, Maintaining the Life of Worship, and Preserving the Truth that Frees. Each one of these priorities are essential and interdependent upon one another. All of them are equally important for “Our Work as the Church.” This week we are exploring our fifth essential priority, to Further the Flourishing of Society.

Flourishing of society? What does that look like? Let’s hold onto these questions as we begin our daily rhythm.

As we seek to further the flourishing of society, we follow our daily PRAY(er) rhythm by, ‘P’: PAUSING to be still.  ‘R’: REFLECTING on Scripture or learnings.  ‘A’: ASKING God to help us and others on the journey and ‘Y’: YIELDING to God’s transformative work in our life, no matter the cost. [i]

P. R. A. Y.

Pause 

As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to recenter my scattered senses upon the presence of God.

God, long ago you spoke and by your Words and through your Word, you created. When you looked at what you had created you said it was “good.” As I approach your Word, I ask you would once again do your creative good work by recreating in me your vision for flourishing and empower me to participate in furthering your vision, today.

Read & Reflect 

What does New Plymouth, New Zealand; Pamplemousses, Mauritius; Aswan, Egypt; Enniskerry, Ireland; Suzhou, China; Xilitla, Mexico; Versailles, France; Kanazawa, Japan; British Columbia, Canada; and New York, United States all have in common? There is probably a lot they hold in common, but for today’s discussion, these are all home to some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Human beings all across the world cultivate and recreate beautiful flourishing gardens. Each one is unique to its locale and culture, but all are magnificent.

The Bible begins with the book of Genesis, set in the garden of all gardens, Eden. We learn that it was in this garden where God would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). Imagine that! Consider how wonderful it is to walk in a garden, the fragrances, the sounds, and the life! And then, on top of that, to have God walking with us in casual conversation at the golden hour of the evening…glorious.     

God had more in mind than simply plants flourishing. God created the animals on the land, in the sea and in the air, the plants on land and in the oceans, all of creation, and Eve and Adam as God’s pinnacle creation. God created all of this to flourish (Genesis 1).

What’s our relationship with this word, flourish?  Is it something we pursue only for ourselves?  Or is it something we put energy toward for the sake of others? From the very beginning, God created and longs for all that has been and will be created to flourish.

But humanity.   

Those two words changed everything. When we as humans decide we want to be god of our own lives, we decay rather than develop, exploit rather than expand, and our flourishing diminishes to floundering.

In the book of Genesis we learn:


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6)


In the same way Adam and Eve were unsatisfied with being images of God, as humans we continue to make a power grab at being God and attempt to rule creation on our own terms. We continue to fall prey to this very same temptation, “you will be like God…”. Our common temptation as human beings is to seek our own flourishing without any concern for God, for one another, or for the whole of creation. In our brokenness, we break. In our woundedness, we wound.


Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! (Genesis 4:8-10)


As people, we continually pursue our own flourishing often at the expense of others and the whole of creation. Through our brokenness, the ground no longer produces its potential, birth and growth come with great pain, and any sense of flourishing is watered through blood, sweat and tears. As exiles of the garden, we all long to return to something that is seemingly no longer available to us…

Ask 

Journal and/or self-reflect:
  • What stirs in me when I hear, “I could be like God”?
  • How have my attempts at being God either brought flourishing or floundering?
  • In what areas of my life am I in need of development, expanding, and flourishing?

Let’s read Genesis 4 once again,


Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! (Genesis 4:8-10)


  • How might the flourishing of society relate with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
  • How would I define my role in working toward the flourishing of society?

Yield 

As I return to the invitation to follow Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone, Creator God, I am reminded of your beautiful vision for the world. I recognize I am complicit in its brokenness, woundedness, and decline. And yet, I am grateful that you have invited me to participate with you in bringing about new life. You have redeemed me and I believe you can redeem the world. 

I ask that you give me new eyes for the flourishing of society. I yield to you and invite you to once again command me to cultivate. As one who is humbled to be shaped by your hands, use my life to reshape the things I touch to realign with your vision.  Today marks a new day in a lifelong adventure of following you as an active participant in the flourishing of society. Amen.

Scripture Memorization

Over this next week, we will memorize Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT) together. This passage will help frame the ongoing conversation throughout the week. To begin our practice, let’s write the following verses verbatim in a journal, notecard, on a post-it note, or make a note in your smart device:

This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Spiritual Practice | Confession

As we continue to develop spiritual practices that are essential to our life of following Jesus, we continue this week in developing the habit of ‘confession.’

We hear that ‘confession is good for the soul’, but sometimes we resist what is beneficial and find it hard to do. It can be challenging because confession requires our self-examination, a look inward at who we are and what we have or have not done.[ii]


Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any hurtful way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)


 

  • How might Confession contribute to my flourishing?
Let’s hold on to this thought as we explore the practice of confession throughout this week.

2021 Rev. Mike Morgan