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What to do between grass and Word

In summer, the grass in the field beyond our garden grows to several feet tall. The stalks get thick and rigid, and it takes some effort to wade through the field even as you disappear into it.

But I'm always amazed at how, in winter, all of that grass just goes away. Grass that could have been baled to make thick and sturdy walls for straw-bale houses ... totally gone.

The early Taoists noticed this fleeting quality of grass and concluded that everything about this life is fleeting: "The ten thousand things (a Chinese phrase for 'all things') are insignificant as straw dogs."

The only thing that stays the same is change itself. And even then, change cannot really be named: "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao." Or again: "As soon as there are names, it is time to stop."

The Apostle Peter also used grass to picture how fleeting life is: All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass; the grass withers and its flowers fail. All flesh is like that.

Sometimes we think our flesh is just a little better. It is a peculiar foible of human nature to think, ah, what I do will last. And so we do and do and do ... to make some of what we do, hopefully, last.

But it is all an illusion. We are here, and then we are gone.


So, were the Taoists right?

Well, Peter says there is something that is eternal and constant: the Word of God. This word is imperishable.

The Word that can be named is the eternal Word.

And what is more, this word has birthed us.
It has birthed us. And so we have the durability of eternity.

What, then, is left to do in this life? What can we do that lasts?

Between the perishable grass and the imperishable Word, we are to love one another earnestly, and with a pure heart.


1 Peter 1.22b-25 ... love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Tao Te Ching 5 (straw dogs), 1 (tao that cannot be named), 32 (as soon as there are names ... stop)


Daniel Leslie Peterson September 13, 2009 at 8:07 AM  

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:42-58)

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