Saturday, April 02, 2011
Can we really change the world?
We have three challenges:
1) Prepare new communities of Christians:
Evangelism in developing nations is easy, but discipleship is the challenge. Many return to their pre-Christian habits.
2) Win the West back to the Lord.
3) Find constructive solutions for humankind.
Culture and civilization:
To follow Jesus is not just to subscribe to a set of doctrines. Jesus said his Kingdom is not of this world. Yet Christianity is at the heart of philanthropy, education and the gentling of Europe.
Our best efforts often fall short. The Reformation brought about much that us negative. We must proceed with humility.
St. Augustine spoke of the two cities: one focused on the love of God (Jerusalem) and one on the love of self (Rome). Jesus called us to be in the world but not if it. Is the Spirit of God or the spirit of the world leading the way? In the US the church has by and large become very worldly, thus losing it's tension with the world and thereby it's influence. When conversion is radical it has influence.
As Evangelicals we look to mass movements to change culture, but they don't. It is always God the Holy Spirit who leads. The Gospel got to Africa because the Holy Spirit sent Philip south; to Europe: The Holy Spirit sent Paul to Macedonia; to Gentiles: The Holy Spirit revealed it to Peter. We must allow the Spirit to lead us today and not lead by our own intelligence, experience or training.
TS Elliott said you can't build a tree, it must grow. We can't change culture for the good by using the tools of the world. We must follow the lead of the Spirit.
God is against his gifts when they take His place. The worst of Christian America is holding the Gospel back. In order to advance the Gospel we must break with the worst and, by the guidance of the Spirit, expand the best.
It was Christianity that saved civilization from the Dark Ages.
Christian faith is incredibly innovative, but the Church always goes forward best by going back first. The Reformation went back to Scripture.
By seeing civilization in decline we must remember that the Gospel always thrives under persecution.
Remember the whole world is in His hands. The dominant emotion in the world is fear. The Lord says Fear not.
Do your utmost for his highest. As each of us uses our gifts and spheres of influence the Kingdom will expand.
Wilberforce said, "Let a thousand flowers bloom." When we plant seeds the Lord will bring the growth.
Karl Barth said Luther was reaching for the hand rail and took hold of the bell rope that woke the world.
We can't plan the next Great Awakening, but we can follow the Spirit's promptings and see what God will do.