2007-05-04 - Unlikely Teachers
What can sophisticates like ourselves, with our IPODS©, TIVO©, Laptops, DVD-equipped vehicles etc. possibly learn from people who live in simple huts in the jungle?
According to linguist Dan Everett, in the April 16, 2007 New Yorker magazine, the tribe has no concept of the past or the future. Their language doesn't allow for it; there is only a present tense. The Piraha literally live in the present. Imagine if we didn't agonize over past mistakes, nor get mired down in bitterness. I imagine that they don't spend sleepless nights, fretting over what lies ahead. Rather, they simply deal with the moments at hand.
This brings to mind something our Lord taught us in Matthew 6:27-34 (The Message)
27-29 Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion - do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
All the tribe members keep in their little homes are the bare necessities of life - cooking utensils etc. No garages. No bonus rooms. No clutter. No "stuff." Imagine how simple their lives, and even their deaths, would be. No material possessions to cause divisions in families. Our Lord spoke about this as well, in Luke 12 (NASB):
* VV. 13 - 15 Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14 But He said to him, " Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."
The Piraha don't have much interest in possessions; unlike us, they won't ever have to worry that their possessions actually possess them. But unfortunately, they also haven't shown much interest in the Christian faith thus far. But as we pray for them, we can also be thankful that they provide poignant reminders for us of some of Christ's lessons.