Canton Jura in Switzerland has always been a big draw for me.
It is the youngest of the Swiss cantons and was birthed with a fair amount of contention. Since nation did not expand through war to add Canton Jura, it had to be formed through taking some land away from Canton Bern and Canton Solothurn, neither of which was excited about the involuntary donation.
When I went there this week, it was quite obvious where the borders of the canton began. You could see the architecture change quite abruptly as I crossed the border into Jura.
There was only one problem: according to the map, I was still in Canton Solothurn!
In other words, the political boundaries were not drawn in accordance with the spiritual realities. Clearly the bulk of God’s original designated area did make it into the political entity now called Canton Jura, but some of the true Jura land (as determined by God) is still in Solothurn and some in Bern. The likelihood of there soon being a correction that aligns the spiritual and political entities is slim.
This is not unique to Canton Jura. We have it on a very large scale in Texas. East Texas is Giver land, as is Louisiana. East Texas really should be part of Louisiana, but because the Sabine River provided a convenient state border, cartographers and politicians goofed and left a huge Giver portion of land under the administration of the Prophet government of the state of Texas.
The problem is even more acute in much of Africa. The borders of “nations” were established by European negotiators looking at the geography of a region on a crude map. There was no sense of the natural divisions of the land, and even less awareness or interest in the tribal heritage already in place. Time and again, God’s pre-determined territories were casually divided by the ignorance of colonialists.
The problem is quite common in the US at the level of municipalities and counties. Often the original jurisdiction is enlarged repeatedly through annexations resulting in a single government entity which is over a hodgepodge of redemptive gifts. This is especially the case with Exhorter governments which tend heavily toward acquisitive tendencies.
The consequences of a mismatch run the gamut. On one extreme you will have enduring conflict between a neighborhood and the city government because they simply don’t speak and listen in the same “key of music” and certainly don’t share the same values.
In a less toxic manifestation, you will simply see a “failure to thrive” label on a neighborhood which can, over time, cause it to spiral down into significant decay.
On the positive side of the spectrum, there can be a fortuitous synergy of the gift of the land and the gift of the government which would cause a particular neighborhood to sparkle, even though it lacks visible resources to justify its enduring excellence.
The point is simply that as we work with land and with the communities on the land, we must remember that God was there first. He determined the redemptive gift of the land. The communities that have emerged on that land over the centuries may or may not correlate tightly with God’s original design. Thus we cannot afford the luxury of uncritically embracing the social boundaries, assuming that they are accurate.
A more careful examination of the structural and behavioral nuances of the communities in question may well give us information that can be used to construct a more accurate and excellent strategy for healing the land and for releasing the treasures God placed there.
Copyright October 2010 by Arthur Burk
Westbound over The Pond