Our task as the church is not to “change the world,” “make the world a better place to live,” or be the “moral guardians” of our time and place.
-The first is Christ’s job, and he’s done it.
-The second is a pagan preoccupation.
-The last is a perversion of the gospel.
Christ has changed the world. Period. That’s what the cross and resurrection are all about. Sin has been forgiven. The powers are defeated. New creation has dawned. The old world is passing away. The church lives from and into this new world amid the old world that is passing away.
The church is not about “making the world a better place to live.” That’s what the old world, the pagan world is up to. It’s about “Making America Great Again.” The church, however, is about demonstrating a new world, a new way of being human that in Christ has become our destiny. The church lives a conflicted relationship with the old world, the old way of being (sub)human. Indeed, it’s presence is a reminder that that world exists under the judgment of God. A judgment of mercy directed to restoration and reconciliation but a judgment that resisted means the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev.6) have their way with that old world. As such, this old world can never be made “a better place to live.” It is riven by the judgment that rests on it and those who give themselves to facilitating that judgment.
Within such a world the church’s first business to is witness to the new creation that has dawned in Christ. To be a prototype of what God desires for human life. It bears this witness not as moral guardians who tell everyone else how to live. Rather, we live out our witness as those who take responsibility for the mess the old world is, confess our complicity and guilt in making it that way, and bear Christ’s cross in it. This cruciform way of life stands with others immersed in daily life, helps and serves them in doing what can be done to help them, sees the old world most clearly when it sees it from the point of view of those who suffer. If “follow the money” is the best way to keep tabs on the shenanigans of the wealthy folks’ schemes, “follow the suffering” is a gospel way of identifying where and how God is active in our world. And we are to be there with him. The church bears up under the judgment that already rests on the world and lives under its pressures and terrors in such a way that testifies to others that it is “Godness” not goodness that matters. And the name we give that “Godness” that rules our world in Christ is “Grace”!