Why are we waiting for someone else to make the world better? Why do we think it’s someone else’s responsibility to make the world a better place?
You want the world to be a better place, look in the mirror. That’s who it starts with. You. If you wait for someone else to start, you’ll be waiting forever. But be careful with that. You aren’t the Savior.
If you are Christian, act more Christ-like. I can guarantee you that will improve the world. Not because you are the Savior, but because anytime you bring Jesus-likeness to the world, or make Jesus-likeness known, it makes the world a better place. Now here’s the thing. What does it mean to be Christ-like? That’s the disagreement. Even the word Christian doesn’t have universal understanding within Christianity. It never has. As a Christian pastor, it frustrates me to no end to see Christians act in very unChrist-like ways.
I don’t think it’s all that difficult to discern what being Christ-like is really all about though. It’s right there in Scripture. You open it up, you see what Jesus said to do, and then you do it. But many aren’t actually interested in that – that’s not new. That’s always been a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Why claim to be a follower of Jesus when you have no intention to actually do the actions and follow?
Want the world to be a better place? Maybe our Christian churches could actually teach what it means to follow Jesus. Ouch. That’s quite an indictment isn’t it? Now here’s the thing, there are many that do. They just do so quietly. They don’t have much money. And many of them don’t have huge memberships either. Some do though. It’s not about the size of the membership or the budget.
There are plenty of Christian churches across this land, and across the world who use Christianity as a facade but gut the core of Christian belief and practice and replace it with other things. The lived faith of Christ is replaced with a hollowed out shell. Does my stating this bother you? If so, why?
In a sense these churches are nothing more than colonialized faith. Colonial faith is nothing more than some other faith doing what colonialism has always done – it comes in, takes what it wants for its own gain, guts it, renames it, claims it, reshapes it, sanitizes it, rewrites the history and doctrines, and uses it at will, all for its own benefit, and makes it an outpost to continue its spread like a virus ready to infect more people. The only difference is who the colonizers are. And there are many colonizing faiths in the world today – some are official religions, but so many of them are unorganized, unofficial religions. Many have been around for a long time.
I highly doubt most of these churches would be honest if you asked them what it was that they actually worshipped and stood for. They’d all say God, or Jesus, or some version of Christianity. But go inside. Start strolling around. Look around. Listen. Take some time. That’s when you start to see, hear, and feel what the core beliefs, creeds, and doctrines are in many churches. Words are one thing – actions and architecture reveal much more. It usually becomes Jesus and… Or some variation of Jesus (which Jesus are we actually talking about) that we need to ask questions about. It becomes the things that people are willing to fight for, cause violence for and kill for. The things that people have made as part of their identity. The things that people have associated with their deity. And if you touch their golden calf, look out – Be prepared. There will be a response – a very unpleasant response.
Want to test this out – go and talk about race in a church. Or sexuality. Or gender. Or money. Or immigration. Or language for God. Or poverty. Is the church all one race? Why? What is Jesus pictured as? Who get’s to talk? Who gets to make decisions? What is the role of money in the church? What does discipleship mean in the church? What does service mean? And is it one directional or is more of an accompaniment model? Is there an American flag in the sanctuary? why or why not? Who is looked up to in civic life as a good example of “good” Christian living? Why? Is it based on their spoken beliefs or how they are living? Are these churches attached to politicians and a political order? An economic system? Does God favor certain nations over others?
A word of caution with this – churches are made up of broken people. There’s a big difference between brokenness and making something other than Jesus into one’s god. Discern the difference.
Then ask even deeper questions – like what’s missing? What don’t people talk about in this church and why? What do they avoid talking about and why?
This all comes back to one thing – it’s easy to point a finger and blame someone else for why things are the way they are. Why aren’t the churches doing something to make the world better? Simple – because they are made up of people who are broken and sinful. And like people, so many churches have put their faith in something other than God, or in addition to something beyond God. And they are broken. And waiting for someone else to make the world a better place.
That’s just one example – extend that question in a million different directions, whether we are talking about government, non-profits, or anything else.
So what are we left with? There will be brokenness because that’s the condition of the world. And our culture is terrible at dealing with brokenness and death. It tries to avoid death at all costs. We will spend ridiculous amounts of resources to avoid death. The culture thinks it can skip it, find a way around it. But the reality is, all things go through death. You have to go through death in order to get to resurrection. The culture just doesn’t believe in resurrection. That’s what makes the church different though. That’s where new life is. That’s where our hope lies.
Our role is sometimes to make things better. And sometimes our role is experience the pain of brokenness and loss. And to go through death. So that we can experience resurrection. We are not in control. That’s really hard for us to accept. Especially as Americans where we think we are in control and independent. We might even hear that in some of our churches. But that’s not Christ speaking, that’s something else putting on the facade of Christ. Christ calls on us to die with him, so that we can rise into new life.
Want to make the world better – come die with Christ so that new life can begin. It starts with Jesus. And he invites us to participate. To let go of control. To stop worshipping the facades and the colonizing faiths. To look in the mirror and ask this question – what is God calling me to in this time and place? And who is God calling me to work with now?