Christians should stop trying to change the world. Or, at least we should stop telling the world that we want to change it.
September 11th is a haunting reminder to many of the kind of change that religion wants to bring about. Violent. Exclusionary. Win at all costs. Do whatever is necessary to create a world that benefits you and yours and silences the opposition.
Religious people are quick to point out the misconceptions embedded in that perception. But perception is reality. The world hears us say that we want it to change and that we’ll do what it takes to bring about that change, which leaves the people of this world convinced that we’re out to harm them and hamper their way of life.
What we’re missing is the opportunity to affirm what is good in our shared life together. While there is no sphere of life or corner of the world that is not broken and less-than-perfect, there is nothing and no one that has been completely un-coupled from the image and design of a good and glorious God. And because we’re created with that divine imprint, we all share a vision for a world that we all want. A world of peace. Shalom. A world where everyone flourishes.
Now we are not naive. We know that sin has broken us and broken our world. Nothing works the way it should. Our silly and horrifying efforts to play God as a society have backfired - our rules don’t help and our solutions create more problems. A life of following Jesus - a life that makes Jesus non-ignorable in our time - is an alternative lifestyle. It provides - and demands - a different route in arriving at our common destination.
The question becomes, how do we convince others to follow us down the narrow road of following Jesus? What must be avoided are acts of coercion, behaviors and messages that the world interprets as hostile and threatening to their way of life. The world we all want is not the product of power and control. It is when we suffer and sacrifice for the sake of others who are not part of our tribe that the world takes notice and becomes willing to listen about the God who came to earth to suffer and sacrifice on their behalf.