Contemplative Life

It’s 2048, Where are the Oaks of Tsedeq?

Okay, admittedly it’s a pretty obscure title for a newsletter article, but just give me a chance to explain.

First of all, the date. There is nothing special about the date itself; this is no prophecy. The year 2048 is simply a reference to twenty five years from now, the traditional span of time to designate the full transition from one generation to the next.

What do you imagine are the most important occurrences between now and 2048?

There is no shortage of potential contenders. In the nightmare dystopian camp we have the prophets of doom declaring everything from climate disaster, to inevitable AI dominance. In the other camp many utopian futurists find no shortage of dream-like potentials, from “deactivating cancer stem cells” to “reprogramming human biology away from disease and aging” (for a fascinating read, check out this 2015 Huffington Post article on 7 top futurists predictions for 2025!).

I would like to boldly suggest that the most profound occurrence between now and the year 2048 is both much more predictable and mundane. Namely, that regardless of what does or does not happen the subtle, entirely predictable and seemingly mundane exchange of leadership, decision making and culture creation will have taken place, just like clockwork. You and I will not be in charge. Gen Z will.

Second, Oaks of Tsedeq?

In Isaiah 61 we find the famous passage which Jesus, at the outset of his earthly ministry (see Luke 4), claims as his personal mission statement: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim good news to the poor etc.” However, a few verses following, we find the impact that this mission of the messiah will have on the following generations.

“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

The impact of the Messiah’s work is to plant “oaks of righteousness” in the form of people who rebuild the devastation of generations past. This word we translate into english as “righteousness” is one of the most important Hebrew words in the bible, and therefore requires a bit of attention. Tsedeq can be translated into English just as accurately as either righteousness or justice. That is simply because the movement towards the original goodness of creation was, for the ancient Hebrew mind, something that must seamlessly flow from one’s own personal integrity and holiness (i.e righteousness) into the social well being of others (i.e justice), and back again.

The legacy of the Messiah was that of a generation of people whose lives were marked by Sedeq: both personal righteousness, and social justice.

So, again imagine it’s 2048, and while some of the technological and medical wonders have failed, others have materialized. Some of the predictions of war simmered down, others flared up. Perhaps cancer really is gone, maybe some new devastating disease has just mutated to become communicable among humans for the first time. What we know for sure, is that the people leading us through these realities will be those we refer to as Gen Z. What we know with almost as much certainty is that the culture they inherited from us is marked by polarization. A polarization which can be pretty easily characterized between the divorcing of personal and social responsibility. Thus what God brought together in tsedeq, our generation having torn it asunder, will be passing on as a culture war to Gen Z.

So, again the question and title for this article: It’s 2048, where are the“oaks of tsedeq”?

Here is the thing about Oak trees: You need to plant them 20-50 years before they mature enough to produce new acorns. Sound familiar?

SLAQ, as a ministry recently incorporated into Coracle, is dedicated to extending Coracle’s mission of “spiritual formation for Kingdom action” into the next generation. In short, recognizing our inability to control outcomes, Coracle is cultivating the kind of “good soil” in which today’s acorns of tsedeq can be nourished (through adventure, service & wisdom) into fully fledged oaks of tsedeq for tomorrow.

All so that come 2048, as those reading this article are either already awaiting glory from the grave, or at least on the downhill ride, the unpredictable landscape of the future will have been given the chance to find “diverse cohorts of serving leaders in the way of Jesus” standing tall as oaks of tsedeq.


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