Becoming an Internal Life Gardener

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The objective of this page  is to spell out some of the implications  of what Jesus was teaching His disciples 2,000  years ago in the Sermon on the Mount on how to treat people …. Even your enemies.

Jesus’s view of people was radically different to his religious counterparts. His religious counterparts had people graded into a hierarchy of those who within their religious framework of acceptability …. who kept close adherence to the teachings, standards and religious laws that they subscribed to. The organisation  was more  important than the individual.

Jesus didn’t start an organisation but developed relationships with a small core of people. These then multiplied around the then known world into small committed fellowships or house churches. In the New Testament Greek of the New Testament, ‘Church’ is translated from the word ‘ekklesia’ which is simply a gathering or community of relationships who gave value to one another.

Jesus had a very Hebrew view of life which was very wholistic whereby all aspects of life had value to God. There were two parts to the world:

  • An invisible Spiritual Realm
  • A very visible Created realm

It was a very unified worldview.

Before He left us, He prayed for you and I in: John 17:20‘Neither, pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe, on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them’

In Jesus’s prayer there are only two kinds of people: those for Him and those against Him. A few points in Jesus’s prayer:

  • That they all may be one: There is only one group …. His followers called from the world ….. not many different followers of all different churches or spiritualities ….. followers of Him alone as the Lord Jesus Christ
  • As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: the degree of togetherness was to be the same degree that Jesus was with His Father = the standard
  • That the world may believe that thou hast sent me: Our degree of unity would result in the world believing in Jesus Christ.

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JESUS’S BASIC TEACHING: The Kingdom of God as a Third Alternative:

Jesus Christ came along 2000 years ago into a very Jewish culture. The Jewish Church in Jesus’s day had everything in a very tight theological and ritualistic box as what was acceptable belief and practice. Anyone in this box was in the Family of God. Anyone not in this box was not in the Family of God. These people had precise beliefs and rituals as to what was acceptable and what was unacceptable. The Christian Church today as a whole is very similar. Jesus Christ came along and preached something that was very different. He preached on a third alternative …. The Kingdom of God.

The Teaching of the Kingdom of God was an absurd notion against all the might of The Roman Empire.

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Jesus set out a basic ground of verbal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:17- 42), for His new Kingdom Order where he taught His disciples principles like: Message Bible: Luke 6:17- 42:

  • You’re Blessed 17 -21 Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:
  • You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
  • God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
  • You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
  • Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
  • You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
  • Joy comes with the morning.
  • 22 -23“Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me.
  • What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like! … for even though they don’t like it, I do and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.
  • Give Away Your Life
  • 24 But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get.
  • 25And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.
  • 26“There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular.
  • 27 – 30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
  • 31 – 34“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
  • 35 -36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
  • 37 – 38“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”39 – 40 He quoted a proverb: “‘Can a blind man guide a blind man?’ Wouldn’t they both end up in the ditch? An apprentice doesn’t lecture the master. The point is to be careful who you follow as your teacher.
  • 41 – 42“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you, ‘ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour.

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SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS:

  • There was an internal, invisible change of heart and not on an external, visible keeping of certain standards and religious laws.
  • The life He presented was an internal one which flowed out to have external, visible actions ….. especially on how we treated other people. Life is an ‘Inside – Out’ approach and not an ‘Outside – In’ approach …. It starts with us being better people on the inside.
  • The focus of Jesus  was on  a vertical spirituality. This means living with the abundant vertical dimension of full acceptance  that Father God gives us through Jesus Christ  and His accompaniments  for us. Read and  meditate on these  chapters: Ephesians  1-3 by the Apostle Paul.
  • There is now another dimension that comes as a consequence of a  vertical spirituality … I call it a horizontal spirituality …… what do I do  in a practical sense as a consequence  of having full acceptance  that Father God gives us through Jesus Christ  and His accompaniments  for us. Read and  meditate on these  chapters by the Apostle Paul: Ephesians  4-6.
  • This is a pattern throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. Paul was writing to disciple new Christians in the first century and this was  his pattern of discipleship.
  • Jesus’s whole primary focus was people as one humanity (not by race or gender), not ideas or religious teachings as with the Jewish Religious people of His day.
  • Jesus’s view of people was radically different to his religious contemporaries. His religious counterparts had people graded into a hierarchy of those who within their religious framework of acceptability who kept close adherence to the teachings, standards and religious laws that they subscribed to. This went way beyond the teaching of the Old Testament.
  • Jesus was calling for a new order of living that was countercultural to the prevailing culture of the day. There was a separation between the cultural concern for prosperity, position and power.
  • Jesus’s new order was countercultural as to how to treat people:
    • Count yourself blessed every time:
      • 1. someone cuts you down or throws you out
      • 2. when the tears flow freely
      • 3. when you’re ravenously hungry ie. starving for food
  • Give Away Your Life. Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. Give without expecting a return. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

THE RADICAL NATURE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD:

The teaching of the Kingdom of God did not possess strong qualities to take over the world …… but when applied by Jesus followers, actually worked and turned the world upside down when outworked with the preaching of the Good News of His new Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God focus applies in the here and now!! and not when we die or Jesus comes again. That teaching was an absurd notion against all the might of the Roman Empire. The meaning of this Kingdom of God was summarised finally in the Roman cross on which Jesus was crucified at the age of 33 and ½ years ….. for someone who only lived this very short life. The cross had two members: a strong vertical member symbolised the link between God and us and a horizontal member which symbolised us with everyone else linked together.

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BECOMING AN INTERNAL LIFE GARDENER:

I went through a life changing situation. In December 1995, I sustained a severe brain injury by falling off a boogie-board in shallow surf at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. Consequently I was in a coma for four weeks, confined in hospital for six months, had to learn everything all over again. These things included:

  • Having to learn everything all over again including walking, talking and eating solid food again
  • Get my brain back together from a very scrambled state since December 1995. I am not the same man as before my accident
  • Lost a lot of intuitive ability to feel what other people are saying ….. although that has largely come back now
  • I am not the same man as before my accident. However I have learnt to work from what I have and not from what I have lost. It is a new season in my life
  • I cannot drive twenty three years (1995-2018) out from my accident …. but I have learnt to drive on the Internet …. to go around the world in few minutes and see hundreds of people at the same time

At the moment these are my continuing problems:

  • My balance is still a bit out at the moment
  • I cannot ride a bicycle now ….. Used to ride for kilometres when I had one when I was younger. I would now fall off a bicycle from a lack of balance
  • I have to be careful in walking up narrow paths
  • I have to come down backwards still on steep steps at home whilst holding onto the banister
  • My mind has slowed right down …. It is hard to take initiative for one’s life and make clear decisions. The result of this for me, is that my wife Harriet now to manages all the finances on a day to day basis. Prior to my accident, we ran a small landscape design and construction business and I did most of that.

Before this period for twenty years, I ran a small Landscape Design and Construction Company undertaking very creative, individual designer gardens for wealthy residential clients around Brisbane. I was an  artistic person, a lateral thinker ….. more artist than businessman. I thought of a landscape as a three-dimensional piece of space that people walked through. This space changed with time as  it grew and changed with the time of day. Shadows vs. sun patterns, boulders, colour, plants, trees, earth-forms, solid structures and water. These were the ingredients I used. Unknowingly, I was a landscape sculptor. Rather an intangible product to sell and run a business with!! However I built a structure for my life: my marriage, family, house and business from this base.

See these posts:

OUR HOUSE …. An Overview

OUR HOUSE …. The Actual Garden

OUR LAND OVERALL

See the current photos of the house and garden and the history of how we obtained rejected materials like the Supreme Courthouse stone (where the Law Courts are now in Brisbane) …. two loads for nothing in 1980. They dumped 100’s of cubic metres as fill and built a school over the top. The stone was cut of the Kangaroo Points Cliffs in 1877 (1877 is very old to us). Australia where I come from is a very young country with only 240 years of recorded history when Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay from England in the 1770’s.

I ran a small landscape design and construction company for 20 years from 1975 to December 1995, the year my very severe brain injury. I did very creative, individual designer gardens for wealthy residential clients. I was more an artistic sort of person, a lateral thinker ….. more artist than businessman. I was very concerned with sustainability in a gardening and agriculture sense ….. can certain practices be maintained ….. is what you doing now, preparing the way ahead for new life? ….. is this garden going to survive twenty years? This was sustainable gardening.

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Are you a gardener? God loves gardens. He placed the first man and woman  in a garden. Jesus prayed  in the garden.

Similarly, it seems that God has an affinity for gardens, as three of the most important events in human history occurred in these places. On the night of His arrest, Jesus led His followers to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where He poured out His soul to the Father in prayer (Matthew 26:36–46). He pleaded for the protection and unity of His immediate disciples and for all of us who would come to faith through their ministry (John 17:15–23).

All four Gospels record the burial of Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. John records the following details:

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. (John 19:41–42)

Harriet (my wife) and I have an extensive garden around our hand-made house. I had an interesting happen this  Christmas. We had  Kieron (my new son-in-law)  and my daughter  staying with for a few days over Christmas.  They gave me  one very interesting  and appropriate Christmas present. It was big cut out  metal  outline of a watering can  with a big pressed out set of words: ‘Life began in the garden’.

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