Devotion in Motion: The concept of Tikkun Olam

16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

A building can be destroyed by blasting it with dynamite or by burning it to the ground. These are violent and dramatic ways to bring about ruin. But another method of destroying a dwelling is more subtle but just as complete. A few people armed with screwdrivers could visit the building every day. Without being seen, every morning they each quietly remove 3 or 4 screws from the hardware and the furnishings. Days and weeks pass, and more quickly than you would expect, the place would be in shambles.

Isn’t that exactly what’s happening to the world we live in? There has been no cataclysmic event that has destroyed our culture. Instead, nut by nut and bolt by bolt, our society is being dismantled a little at a time. Small acts of righteousness are neglected, “tiny” deeds of wickedness are tolerated and practiced. Little things add up — to bring about great harm and havoc.

I don’t feel discouraged, though. The solution to the problem is akin to the cause. If little deeds of rottenness are the cause, little deeds of holiness are the cure.

A Jewish friend of mine introduced me to the Hebrew concept of  “Tikkun Olam.” In English, this translates to something like “healing the universe.” My friend explained that the rabbis taught that when sin entered the world through Adam’s transgression, the universe was irreparably cracked. In fact, every time we sin, it makes another crack in the material of the universe. Wherever there is a crack, the light of God’s truth can’t get through to shine into the world the way that it should.

Therefore, it is our job to do deeds of “Tikkun Olam.” Every day, through small  loving deeds and large ones, we need to do as much good as we possibly can. We need to supply the things that are missing, fix the things that are broken, clean up the messes, and show kindness where it is absent.

You do household repairs to your home, and put Band-aids on your children’s’ scrapes, so why not do the same for the world? We won’t be able to fix everything. But by repairing the things within our reach, we help to heal a hurting world. Then the light of God’s truth can shine more brightly on us all.

john and susan cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 27 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher wants to redouble his efforts to do good things in the world.)  The Cashes have two sons, Spencer (age 21), and Seth (age 18), who live in the parsonage, too, except when they are away at college. He would love to hear from you in an email sent to