Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How We Change Our World

Today I came across the following quote,
"He also lived with authority. He didn't teach chemistry; he turned water into wine. He didn't teach weather patterns; he calmed a storm. He didn't teach medicine; he healed hurting people and instructed his followers to heal in his name. He didn't teach moral philosophy; he forgave and enabled us to forgive. He didn't teach a course on world hunger; he fed the multitudes and commanded his followers to feed them also." ("A Faith and Culture Devotional," Kullberg and Arrington)
This quote grabbed mt attention as I was thinking about our series in "Changing Our World for Good." We endeavor in some many ways to boldly change our culture, and often in the process we turn people away rather than to draw them near. Now, granted when Jesus was here He did turn some people off (usually those of the "religious right" of the day) but for the most part people were drawn to Him. As the above quote reminds us people were drawn to Him instead of just teaching behind the pulpit (though He did that, too) He lived out amongst the people, meeting their needs as they came up.

A case in point from our Scripture text of last week and this coming, John 4:1-42, is that when Jesus brought forth the issue of the woman's husband it was not with a word of condemnation, but for the purpose of drawing forth her need. Rather than moralizing, He would offer her forgiveness. This encounter reminds me of another in John 8:1-11, there too, Jesus does not condemn but offers forgiveness and the grace of a new direction.

I believe there is a lesson there for us to learn.

When the woman at the well changes the focus from her "marital status" to that of the correct place and form of worship, here too Jesus does not argue with her over the "wrongness" of the Samaritan view, but instead points her to a whole new way of looking at the truth. He moves quickly from discussing religious systems (read that "mountains" of worship) to a new culture that is not based upon a place, but upon a Person.

I think this is what Andy Crouch is promoting in his book, "Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling." Crouch explains that one of the best ways we can truly make a difference in our culture, is not by copying, or mimicking, or even standing against our "evil" culture, but rather by offering something wholly (holy?) different, and with that something better than what the people already have. Too often, we either just tear the culture down or copy it up and neither of these options, left to themselves, will draw people to leave what they have to join us in what we are offering.

When Jesus came, He did not just come to change culture, but to create something new. Even on the night He would find Himself betrayed into the hands of sinful men He declared to His disciples, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20) The Kingdom He came to establish would not be a rehash or a remaking of the old, but the birthing of a new Kingdom. A Kingdom so radically life-changing that people would freely give of their very lives to be part of it.

I think there is a lesson here for us to learn.

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