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Q & R: transforming the world?

Here's the Q:

Thank you, Brian, for struggling with the question of what is wrong with the church today. I would rather talk about Christ followers, to differentiate from the religious. Religion to me, is the yeast in the whole that often becomes more important than the bread.

My question: Is it really the Christ followers’ task to transform the world? Or is it rather the Christ followers’ task to lay down the desire to be in control, to determine good and evil [ala Garden of Eden], and to allow God to transform our character into a likeness of His Son, so that in each life the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount is exemplified? Isn’t relationship the end goal? If there were a super abundance of Christ followers, it would follow that the impact on our world would be great.

The reality seems to be that people like programs, religions, being in charge and are not inclined to let God determine what is good and evil. The competition, the world system of our enemy, appeals more to the majority and his ‘suicide machine’ is churning on. But isn’t that also what Jesus taught? That the road is narrow, and few there be that find it. And that in end times, it will be hard to find someone who holds on to faith. So is it our task to transform this world? Are we to fight the enemy? Or are we to take up the challenge of living counter our culture in accordance with the Kingdom we are citizens of, but whose Kingdom is just glimpsed in our lives now with the fulfillment yet to come? To touch the lives of those within our reach with the measure of grace extended to us; to live with integrity in a polluted world.
So much is done in the name of religion that turns my stomach!! I am angry when someone says they stand for God, speak for God and this ‘fruit inspector’ has a hard time finding any love, joy, peace, gentleness… in what is said and done. I am angry because it may turn people away from seeking the only satisfying relationship they will ever have.
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart and concerns and questions,


Here's the R:


Thanks both for raising an important question and proposing some good answers.

Like many, I feel sick when I turn on the TV and see the latest political debate or see the latest political attack ad that uses religion as ammunition. The politician looks sleazy, religion seems degraded, and the whole political process is debased. I won't start mentioning specifics, except to say the Rich Perry has hit a few low balls lately that make Christian faith seem like a message of exclusion and fear rather than reconciliation and love.

Your question "are we to fight the enemy" gets right to the point - the process of identifying people as friend/us/good or foe/them/outcast/evil expresses the very kind of judgmentalism that Jesus tries to free us from. The word "fight" - so popular in political campaign - is rare on the lips of Jesus and the target of whom we fight is not "them," not "flesh and blood," but rather systems of thought, not to mention unbridled fears and desires and drives that wage war within our own souls.

So I'm eager to participate in movements that want to bring deep change - transformative change - to the world, but the "How" question is really important! How we do it determines what we actually do.