WM Word of the Week: Garbology | New Zeal

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WM Word of the Week: Garbology

Posted July 27, 2018

In WM's brand new 'Word of the Week' series, author Rosy Keane drinks coffee (unrelated) and writes about the way an unusual word can help us to connect with Jesus (very related).

Last week's WM Word of the Week: Ullage

Today's word is 'garbology': the study of the material discarded by a society to learn what it reveals about social or cultural patterns.

Rifling through someone's trash - does that sound like your cup of tea?

Nah? You might at least have heard of reporters (or stalkers) rifling through trash to get information about a celebrity. This helps us understand garbology - studying what someone has thrown away to get a better idea about their life.

In a less seedy sense, garbology helps archaeologists understand ancient cultures better. Hunting tools, raw food materials and broken pottery can all testify of the life that resulted in these objects being discarded.

'[These] all testify of the life that resulted in these objects eventually being discarded.'

Take out the trash

'What people have owned -- and thrown away -- can speak more eloquently, informatively, and truthfully about the lives they lead than they themselves ever may.' - William Rathje and Cullen Murphy, RUBBISH! The Archaeology of Garbage

Garbology - the life our trash testifies of - can be a challenging way to reframe our faith as individuals and the Church.

The Church's trash heap should testify to the life of Jesus Christ. But does it?

If it does, it should naturally result in all harm, sin, oppression, limitation and injustice being discarded. For example - the condoning of owning slaves, treating women as second-class citizens or 'purchasing' salvation through 'indulgences' are a small snapshot of dark parts of the Church's history. They have (for the most part) ended up on the trash heap as Jesus brings revelation to the Body of Christ. But we need to continue to listen to the Holy Spirit as God adds to that pile.

Question: As society look at the mistakes and practices the Church has thrown out, what do you think they say about the life of Christ in us?

I count it as trash

Most of us can understand throwing out the archaic and hurtful - but what about when Paul asks us to throw out our accolades, too?

Jewish speakers were attempting to influence churches in Ephesus in around AD 60–61, by virtue of boasting about their religious achievements. Paul responds with his own whakapapa (family line) of importance:

'[C]ircumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.' 

And what does he do with all this glory? He says 'I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ...' He throws his accolades on the trash heap so he might boast in Jesus! 

Question: Are you holding on to religious achievements as a Corps, group or personally that give you confidence in your own goodness, rather than Christ's?

'I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ...' - Paul, Ephesians 3:8

A better boast

Jeremaiah 9:24 '[B]ut let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight...'

Let's not gather around ourselves a trash-palace of self-recommendations, unaddressed sin or unaccountable leadership. We want to be people whose lives speak to the goodness of God. If anything in your own flesh - your own ability or credit - is causing you to trust yourself more than the flesh and blood of Jesus, throw it on the trash heap. Commit it to God right now and resolve to leave it there.

Let what you throw away testify to your confidence in Jesus, so whoever rifles through your trash knows of the life you have found.

Question: What is God asking you to put on the trash heap, to testify to the life of Christ? Are you prepared to go there?

Prayer: God, help the Body respond to where you are moving. We need the Holy Spirit's help in spotlighting what needs to be thrown away - individually and corporately. Help me to change and grow as you lead.

'What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.'