If Not Us, Who?

helpingAt the end of my last post I asked you what it would take to make the move from Unchristian to Christian, which is just what the authors of the book asked some well-known Christian leaders.  Instead of having a reputation for being hypocritical, antihomosexual, judgmental, sheltered, too political, and too focused on making converts these leaders dreamed that in thirty years Christians might have a reputation for being loving, bold, gracious, authentic, courageous, admired, engaged, countercultural, focused on justice and—most importantly—focused on Jesus.  One of my favorite responses was this one from Leroy Barber, President of Mission Year:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven: just a little of it leavens the entire loaf.

What if the church, over the next thirty years, truly lives the life that Jesus as taught us to live?  What if we love our enemies, pray for those who hate us, and offer our coat when our hat has been taken?  Are we ready to truly sacrifice and watch the world move toward the kingdom of God?

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who loses a pearl in a field and purchases the whole field to find it.

If Jesus is as valuable as we say he is, then what will we give up for him to remain alive in us?  Can we, the church, spend the next thirty years valuing Jesus Christ and whatever he asks of us above all else?  Can we even imagine what the world would become?

If the church will choose now to live this way, we can confidently look forward to seeing our culture influenced and changed.  My hope is that when I am seventy-two, I will have seen the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God.  I imagine a world lacking divorce, sexual promiscuity, and poverty, and overflowing with peace, mercy, and justice.

Isaiah prophesies that the old wasted cities will be restored.  He says that we shall be called repairers of the breach, the restorers of the streets.

And then there was this bold vision from Brian McLaren, a founding member of emergentvillage.com:

In thirty years research could tell us that when people think “Christian” they think things like this:

  • Christians are the ones who love people, whoever they are—gay or straight, Jew or Muslim, religious or atheist, capitalist or not, conservative or liberal.
  • Christians are the ones who have done more than anyone in the world to stop the HIV/AIDS crisis.
  • Christians are the people who gravitate toward the poor and who show compassion through generous action and seek justice so that the systemic causes of poverty are overcome.  They call the rich to generosity, and they call on rich nations to work for the common good.
  • Christians are people who believe that art and creativity are important, so they consistently produce the most striking, original, and enriching art.
  • Christians are willing to give their lives for the cause of peace.  They oppose violence in all its forms.  They will lay down their lives to protect the vulnerable from the violent.
  • Christians care for the environment.  They don’t see is as raw materials for economic gain, but they see it as the precious handiwork of their Creator.
  • Christians have personal integrity.  They keep their marriage vows and are aware of how destructive misused sexuality can be.  Yet they are compassionate toward people who make sexual mistakes, and they never consider themselves superior.
  • Christians build harmony among races.  You always know that you’ll be respected when you’re around a Christians.

It may be that neither of these visions is your vision for the future of Christianity, but isn’t it important to have one?  A huge, hopeful, vision of what Christians can do, what the church can be, and how the world can change as a result of our efforts over the next thirty years?  That’s what keeps me going.  It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.  A vision of how the world might be transformed by the followers of Jesus, and how through our feeble and fallible efforts we might really help him bring heaven to earth.

If not us, who?

4 thoughts on “If Not Us, Who?

  1. Well Jim,
    I must say that I am impressed with your courage for taking on this topic. You must be wearing the “full armour of God” these days. I does seem to me that we Christians would benefit by spending more time in careful and honest self evaluation than we do in polishing our halos. All of this talk about “unChristian” has brought several questions to my mind. For example: Why does it seem that we Christians find it so much easier and feel quite justified in judging the splinter in the eyes of others than to struggle with that big ole log in our own eye? What about the way we can “cherry pick” the scriptures that support our side, our “right side” while conveniently ignoring any that may throw doubt onto our clearly defined right world. We do all this in the face of clear evidence that in so doing, we are erecting obstacles to bringing people to Christ and His Kingdom to earth. Perhaps we Christians do not really know HOW to love. Perhaps we are so wounded ourselves that we cannot love others in our need to protect ourselves. Perhaps it is just easier to ride atop our white steed thatn to walk humbly with our God. does anyone have any thoughts?

  2. What a beautiful and wonderful world we would live in if we learned to think and practice the above list mentioned as much as we humanly could. with the help of God. Of course love is the bottom line along with compassion. I see all of this as our biggest challenge to help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. I also like to think that if we Chisians were like leaven wonders could be done through us. What beautiful visions – all of them!

  3. I think there are Christians and non-Christians are in the world showing mercy, compassion, generosity, love, kindness, tangible help and friendship and so much more. I think the more you let God in the more He somehow inspires you to be all these things. And by being one person willing to be moved by God to walk the love walk those affected are likely to follow the same path. I think working on us individually to get closer and closer to God, we can affect those who are in despair, or need or without the knowledge of God as Love. This works. It grows. Jesus started with only 12. It was done then, it can be done now.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with Geri’s post. The Great Commission sends us out to preach the gospel, not to judge sin. It’s not our job to judge the sin in anyone’s life but our own. And I agree with Dawn that as we move closer to God and learn the love that is God it gives us the tools to relate to our neighbors in a new way, through love. And I believe that through relating to those around us (Christians or non-Christians, sinners all) in love, we come closer to heart of God and the divinity of God.

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