“Let us assume the best of intentions. Christians today— of whatever stripe— sincerely want to engage the world for good. As we have seen, though, Christians have embraced strategies that are, by design, incapable of bringing about the ends to which they aspire.”1
This statement gives voice to a nagging concern I have had a hard time getting words around for some time. It is the reality that the best of intentions are just not enough to actually make any substantive change happen. If intentions were enough, then we would be living in a global utopia right now! The vast majority of people (be they Christians or other strands of “people of faith”) genuinely want the world to be better, happier, friendlier, kinder, more considerate, more caring… but with all of there good wishes and intentions, look around. Does it seem that we’re any closer today to living in a happy, blissful world absent of war and brutality? Probably not.
It seems to me that the key here is that we have been leaning on our own strategies and plans. Since we have the desires, it stands to reason that we should also have the cure, right? Well maybe not. I seem to remember reading somewhere in the scripture about God thinking thoughts that are “higher” (think… DIFFERENT in substance) than ours and that his ways are far different. Could it be as simple as that? We have misplaced our confidence and assumed we could strategize our way to our desired outcomes? That, since we dreamed up this utopian vision, we should be the ones to scheme up a way to see it come to fruition? I’m reminded of another passage that talks about how we should not lean on our own understanding, but how do we do that? How do we walk in that kind of confidence when we are pressed on every side with the reality of people suffering and “we have the answer” after all?
I think maybe we have conflated two ideas… The idea of changing the world and the idea of inviting people into a relationship with Jesus. Maybe these are two very different ideas and we have allowed our response to our calling to do the one (Bring people to Jesus) to be confused with the other which really isn’t our job at all? So maybe if I just do my job, and let God do his, I can have confidence that our world will be transformed when and how HE wants it to be. Interesting….
1. James Davison Hunter To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (London: Oxford University Press. 2010) 99.