This week my younger daughter and I were discussing the behavior of coworkers and how it affects you. I told her that I had to pray and ask God to help me in the way that I respond to them. I was the one reacting and stressing. I wanted them to change, and they weren’t. I realized that it was the person in the mirror that had to make the change first. We all struggle with wanting to change people, our family, our coworkers, church members, and even the pastor. We believe our way is better. Each generation believes their views and beliefs are unique and they will make the world better. The generations before them believed the new generations’ views were emotional and illogical, and this is the cycle of world change. Many of those wanting change had the same goal, i.e. peace, equality, freedom, choice but their method of achievement is far apart. For example, Martin Jr., a Christian, and Malcolm, a Muslim, both wanted equal rights for Black Americans. Their methods to achieve that desire were different.
Hunter addressed Christians’ views, beliefs, and their methods to change the world. In a few of the essays he addressed the concerns of the Protestant and Catholic, Evangelical and Fundamentalist, and Anabaptist and Christian Lefts. He says “to change the world you need to understand the culture values.” (6) “If culture were simply a matter of hears and mind then the influence of various minorities would for relatively insignificant.” (21) Heath and Potter in the book Rebel Sell also addressed the difference between the Christian right wing and the left wing.
In one of the essays, Hunter discussed the Anabaptist and Christian lefts and their significant differences between them were their views on the involvement of the state in the lives of the people. The Anabaptists were for the separation of State and Church whereas the Christian Lefts wanted the state to make laws for all to follow their Christian beliefs. There has always been a battle with the church wanting to be non-regulated by the state, yet they want to regulate the state laws. They forget that God allows us each to make our choices. He does not force us but encourages us to seek him.
It has always been a discussion on how much should the church be involved. Should they talk about politics in the pulpit, should the pastor encourage the congregation to vote for who they vote for, should politicians be invited to speak, and more. Should preachers run for office? I use to say a Christian cannot be President of the United States of America. Why? You cannot serve to masters. You will begin to hate one of them. Former President Carter had challenges that affected his faith. After four years, he aged tremendously. Now that he is out of that position, I believe he has impacted more lives with his mission work than he ever did as President.
Hunter discusses the war of the church against the world and the world against the Church. He points out that the church needs to be the church by preaching the word of God. Jesus said to those who believe in picking up their cross and following him. Jesus concentrated on spreading the word of God and about the kingdom of eternal life. He didn’t just speak in the synagogues but walking through the communities sharing the good news. He did not spend time protesting, lobbying or running for a political office. He focused on changing the hearts of the people. It’s an individual decision. Greg Gilbert pointed out in his review of the book “the church should understand its charge in the world to be one of ‘faithful presence within.’ He defines this as a calling for the church ‘to bear witness to and to be the embodiment of the coming Kingdom of God.’ The point is not to change the world, but to bear witness to the world in word and deed that a better world is coming.”