I was talking to someone yesterday about changing the world. Changing the world is something that I believe we are called to do; or at least, it is a consequence of doing what we are called to do. Which is to follow Jesus.
When we follow Jesus, the world changes. Not all at once. Because the world isn’t a big mass of ‘all at once’, but is made of up people in families and communities. So, as we change, so our world changes. Like a virus, but a good one.
Is it still called a virus if it’s good?
The conversation began about being angry. My friend was angry about the situations adults can create for kids. Grrrr. It is enough to make you angry. But what do you do with that anger? Suppress it, ignore it, release it on the running track? Or do you allow your anger to show you your passion; and do you turn your passion into action.
If homelessness makes you angry, you’ve found you passion for the poor. If the treatment of people with mental health problem makes you angry, you’ve found your passion for the marginalised. If football makes you angry you need to get out more.
And so on.
But what’s the point? I can’t change the world. I am just me. Better to live my life, to be calm, to keep quiet. And if necessary, channel the anger into my running. Or my music. Or whatever.
But who does that benefit? Just me. Not the world. In this conversation I realised that I still believe we can change the world. Which is not a doe-eyed optimism that if we all stand in front of Bambi we’ll save her. But that being the change we want to see in the world (Ghandi said that, I wish it was Jesus) is a theological imperative. That means we absolutely have to. Because if God cares for me and wants to turn my life around then he cares for everyone. We are not meant to be saved and gather dust like an old piece of furniture.
If we follow Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to grow fruit in us then we cannot be blind to the world around us. We cannot give more than God has already given. We cannot sit on our laurels (what are they?) and complain it’s too big a problem.
And I don’t believe this is a specialist branch of the Jesus movement called ‘activist Christianity’ which can be opted out of, any more than repentance or grace or being slightly fed up with Church can be opted out of.
So I do believe that we can change the world. Not on our own. The ‘we’ very much begins with God, revealed in Jesus and present by the Spirit. Present in us, whom he called his body. Of course it is a stupid idea and of course I don’t REALLY believe that me, I, Kevin Lewis, can change the world. On my own. But together we can. One starfish at a time.
Do I always feel it? No. Do I always want to be a part of it? No. Is it frustrating? Yes. Do I see changes? Yes.
Mostly importantly, is it true? Yes.