I recently traded in an old tractor for a “Zero Turn” riding mower to assist in the care of the very large lawn areas on our farm property. I had seen “Zero Turn” mowers at work at other places, but never rode or tried one. This mower moves forward or backwards using two levers instead of a steering wheel. And the amazing part is that the machine can do a 180 degree turn on a dime! No backing up or backward/forward movements. You just move one or both levers and go.
I must confess that it has taken some adjusting on my part. And I need to concentrate on my movement more intently now than with the more conventional ride mowers. I need to pay close attention to those two levers and be ready to modify my position or speed at all times.
Kingdom living—as Jesus envisioned it—often requires a 180 degree turn. And the turn keeps happening in multiple areas of life.
I heard about a man who visited his pastor with these words, “Reverend, I want you to know that I have now turned my life 360 degrees!”
Replied the pastor, “I think 180 degrees would be about right.”
The Christian life needs constant correction in the light of Jesus’ life and teaching. Many times we realize a need to make a 180 degree turn in a new direction. For example, the culture in which we live suggests that peace comes through might, through the militarizing of our defenses. Jesus (and later, Paul) says that peace comes through doing a lot of good—using our considerable abundance for the things that make for peace. How do we use our substantial power for a deep peace, for non-violent transformation? And how can I make that kind of change in my own life?
The culture suggests that life finds happiness through addition—owning more and more of the world’s goods. Jesus suggest that Kingdom living has more to do with subtraction than with addition. One Christian writer speaks of the “spirituality of subtraction.” Another says:
I am sad to say that most spirituality in the West has largely become a matter of addition…The Jesus journey shows it is not at all about getting, attaining, achieving, performing or succeeding….Jesus’ spirituality is much more about letting go of what we do not need anyway.
We tend to be persuaded that providing a powerful military presence is our best option, or that adding possessions to our life is a positive direction. Kingdom living suggests turning in a new direction (a 180 degree turn?) is the faithful and spiritually powerful response.
These are some of my reflections as I adjust to a new breed of lawn mower. I know that I need to be a more faithful leader and example in the direction of what Jesus called “the Kingdom of God.” Right here! Right now!