KEY SCRIPTURE Isaiah 5:8
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
Not every neighbour is a good one. I've said before that when we buy a house, we also purchase the neighbours. Therefore a bit of research is needed. Some of us might like to rid ourselves of neighbours. Then again, they might want to get rid of us. But there are those in positions of power who have removed neighbours simply because they can.
My Father in Law handed me a book to read. It wasn't the first book he's given me. Each one I read for both courtesy and knowledge. Being a wise and Godly man, he doesn't offer them lightly.
This book was about the Highland clearings in Scotland in the 1800s, where rich people pushed poor people off the land to have better views. They terminated the farmlet leases and cleared the land of people so they could run sheep. Sheep did less damage to the soil and surroundings than the cattle of the Highlanders, and the Highlanders were well below their standard anyhow.
When the local Sheriff and his extraction crew came with the warrant, they gave families fifteen minutes to gather their belongings, abandon their homes and leave before they burned their huts to the ground. In those days, one could get a seven-year penal term in Australia for physically fighting back.
These Highland families could then work bringing in kelp from the freezing sea waters to be processed and sent to London to make glass or other such jobs, otherwise the authorities forced them off to Canada on boats where many died during the overcrowded voyage.
The rich and powerful wanted to lay their vast properties side-by-side with some forest and grass in between, so there was no room for ordinary people, while at the same time attending a Church that preached to love thy neighbour.
History pages tell us of John Gordon of Cluny, who cleared over 3000 people from his recently purchased Scottish islands, thrusting them into boats like cattle so he could live a peaceful life in his now environmentally protected property.
Something obscene occurs when power is added to the wrong heart. The combination creates a deadly discriminate poison, a selective horror that is unbelievably real. We have seen it in the inquisitions, wars, witch hunts, and corporate and political battles, right down to basic kidnapping. And we are aware there are ancient organisations behind much division and brutality, working slowly year by year to control, thinking we don't notice.
Many Christians seek the same power without understanding the price. We believe we can handle it, but the falling of noted preachers with their limited power tells another story.
What makes people lose their sense of community and, some would say, heart, to want greater isolation, where animals can remain, but humans must go? Is there a parallel with current international environmental laws? We all want our piece of paradise, and some neighbours may be less than perfect, but when Jesus commands us to love our neighbour, to what degree do we refuse to obey scripture?
If it weren't so sad, it would be almost humorous—God looking down at these funny little people spending all their efforts to increase power so they can dominate, not realising that true omnipotence belongs to the God against whom they fight. But Satan wields significant influence over the unsaved.
Isaiah wrote our key scripture around 2700 years ago. So, God had the same trouble with people then. And we know of groups in the last days designing ways to govern all humankind. Satan's spirit of entitlement doesn't care which era it works in, so long as division and greed rule supreme.
There were also religious wars and mischievous priests during the clearings, so one needed to be wise. Still, James reminds us of our duties, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27).
This method would produce a more Godly and loving outcome and more converts for Heaven.
Jesus commands us to ensure our future desires are to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. Not seek a world and its power that works the opposite. Winning neighbours for Christ is a better option than clearing them out.
PRAYER Dear Lord, thank you for the constant reminders of where my heart needs to be and who it must follow.
Photo by Amanda Llewelyn-Jones