Transforming the World: An Ancient Vision
Micah 4:1-4, Revelation 21: 1-6
Working for justice can make us hungry. We are hungry for a vision of a world transformed, a vision that can sustain and nourish our efforts. One place to look for that vision is in scripture, where we can find poetic and inspiring descriptions of the promise of God’s transforming power. In Micah 4:1-4, we hear of a place of peace. There are still disputes, but they are settled, war has been removed as an option: “nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war no more.” In this place, there is freedom from want and freedom from fear: “everyone has their own vine and fig tree and no one is afraid.”
This belief in the possibility of dignified life is echoed in concepts central to the present day frameworks of human rights. “Everyone has their own vine and fig tree” has within it ancient and contextual images of home, food, and livelihood, core themes of the present day International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. “No one is afraid” reflects a core theme of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Micah’s vision of a world transformed is nourishing hope to those ancient, or modern, who seek abundant life for all.
In Revelation 21:1-6, we have an urban counterpoint to Micah’s pastoral mountain, valley, vine and fig tree, but it is similarly a place transformed. In John’s city, tears are wiped dry, death is vanquished and the fountain of life flows to all. The writer makes it clear that while heaven is made new, so to is earth renewed. Theologian Marcus Borg describes this vision as ‘the dream of God,’ the only dream worth dreaming. John’s vision of a world transformed is nourishing hope for those who work to make God’s dreams come true.
Our global partners may not speak in the poetry of Micah or of John, but often have similar visions of a world transformed. Their work demonstrates a confidence that, to use the words of our faith, God can truly do more than we can ask or imagine. Our partners face immense challenges, and yet they believe that another world is possible and choose to try and make it so. As we partner with them in transformation, we can be inspired by their hope, and like the dreamers of these ancient visions, hold fast to the promise of our God who makes all things new.