John Steward of Jesus
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Separation from the System

Below are excerpts from emails which follow those in the following listing below in this Sporadic Log

(January 1, 2011)

Hi John,
Thank you for your helpful reply.

About 20 years ago my wife and I walked
away from our religious heritage with
all the consequences of such a thing.

We come from a branch of the so-called
"Church of Christ" which in essence holds
that the Bible contains all you need and
that there is no operation of spirit
separate and apart from Bible study.

That wasn't working for us and still doesn't
so we left and started on this journey to
attempt to submit to God and walk in faith
and obedience, weak though it may be.

Since we do not have a Calvinist outlook
and never have, we sort of come from a
more Anabaptist-like view, I think...

So we've since had four children, now ages
(listed). We've homeschooled the
whole way with the children. That journey
has put us around other homeschool families
and we've been part of home church groups and
some small churches and none of that has
really gone all that well.

I was working as a manufacturing engineer in a
General Motors plant when we got married and kept
at that for about 15 years. I left that about 12
years ago with the idea of starting something
so I could be around the children at least a little
bit instead of being gone all the time.

Still haven't had a job all that time, but mostly
have lived off savings all this time.

We started a craft business selling soap
made using milk from a family milk cow and had
some success with that...

Then I set out to learn about the Internet and
have had some success with making money with
stuff on the Internet.

So with credit union accounts, Paypal account,
Amazon account, driver's license, IRA's and
a lot of time and work, I can almost make a
living for my family from home.

Of course, throw in the mix a life-time of
gardening and poultry projects and we have
12 yearling calves raised from babies too.

My oldest son is a knife maker with some success
at selling his work so far.

The other children also have craft and rural
living skills of various sorts too.

Then too we have a small loose network of friends
who do not work well enough together to have
a regular church type set-up. But we still
interact and talk about all kinds of stuff
including at least a little about what the
kingdom of God is and how it could work.

In addition, my wife and I and all the children
are still working together well at this point.

However, the older ones can see the dead-end of
no driver's license and no ties to the system.

We see at least some of the complications of
trying to divorce yourself from the world system.

It appears that some tie to the system is required
to even live. You either maintain the tie yourself
or rely on somebody else to sign up for stuff for you
or do things for you...

We are struggling mightily trying to see how to proceed.


That's a bit of where we are and what we are up to.

We have spent the last many months looking at what
Jesus said in the gospels. I see much radical
directions there, some of which looks all but
impossible, but I and mine want to be profitable
servants/slaves. We want to love everybody and be
a blessing wherever we are and don't even imagine
that we have all the answers (Ha!).


(January 1, 2011)

Hello (name),

Thanks for your "revealing" letter.  If found it to be encouraging, confirming, and heartwarming.  My present impression is that we are both walking along the path which the followers of Jesus have found throughout the centuries.  I encourage you to continue on the way.

Let me comment briefly on your references to "the dead-end of no drivers license and no ties to the system", "trying to divorce yourself from the world system", and "some tie to the system is required even to live".

These are matters that all kingdom seekers are struggling with because they are related to the essence of what it means to choose His kingdom or system instead of the system of the world.  We don't have final answers or answers that we should try to impose on others because his calling is living and dynamic, heard in our hearts over time, and not limited (as you confirm that many of us were taught) to static words recorded in final form in a book available for study.

After reading your report, I do not wish to suggest that you should change your thinking or direction of activity.  My comments below are only intended to refer to the way you express your thinking and choose words.  I suspect that if we could engage in clarifying dialog we'd find that our thoughts were in agreement.  Yet our choice of words can both indicate lack or clarity and also condition how our thoughts will form in the future.  So let's consider three word choices of yours.

"the dead end of no drivers license and no ties to the system"
Nobody wants to move toward a dead end.  It implies frustration, if not an end of life.  It's a bad place to go.  I wouldn't agree that having no drivers license or ties to the system (depending on the definition of "ties") is always bad.  So I don't like the choice of terms.  It is a situation of challenge, perhaps loss, perhaps discomfort, but perhaps also one of opportunity, growth, learning, and reward.  Let's not prejudge such situations with our choice of label.

"trying to divorce yourself from the world system"
Our concept of divorce applies primarily to marital arrangements.  The Biblical ideal is always a permanent relationship.  Divorce is never the first preference or desire.  It is thought of as, at best, an unintended consequence and bad experience.  The word has bad overtones.  Divorce is to be avoided whenever possible.  I don't want to bring such connotations to the concept of separation from the world system.  Again, it may be a challenging, uncomfortable, unpopular action, but it is the way to a better life, one more free, rewarding,  and fulfilling.  So let's not imply by a choice of label that it's an undesirable experience.

"some tie to the system is required even to live"
On the face of it, this statement seems to end all discussion.  We all want to live.  We don't want to suggest that someone should abandon something required for life, and die.  As is so often the case, the validity of the statement depends on the definition of terms, specifically the word tie.  My sense is that the ties to the system which we are to break are those which require allegiance, obedience, and support to authorities who offer to rule over us and reward us with benefits.  This does not mean we are to stop all interactions with others who are a part of the system, or refuse their offers to freely trade with us or give us something which they were able to receive because of their participation in the system.  In every age there are people like Joseph of Arimathea who secretly want to support the kingdom, and welcome the opportunity to be of service.  Such interactions are found throughout history among those who sought another way, who often reminded each other that "the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."  When I consider all the ingenious ways in which my needs, and the needs of countless others throughout the centuries have been provided for, I am reminded that I serve an amazingly creative Father, who has a sense of humor.  When the kings of the earth conspire against him, he laughs.  So long as we do not intentionally deceive or defraud, and so long as all parties are blessed through such interactions, it seems to me that our Father is pleased with them.

As a footnote to the last paragraph, let me add that as we walk the alternative path, it is amazing how many ways we find to make arrangements for living outside the system.  Everyone on the path has his own examples.  The variety is endless and amusing.  Living outside the system of the world is not only possible.  It is the only full life.

May you be blessed, and used to bless many others.