why i still believe we can change the world

22 02 2012

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.

Sometimes.

Mostly importantly, is it true? Yes.  

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7 responses

22 02 2012
carol

Hi Kevin,

Those I have met who live righteously (rightly) leave a lasting impression of goodness upon the soul…they have a lightness of touch…that makes the heart sing…they give me hope…they truly have changed my world.

22 02 2012
c2drl

Amen!

Sometimes it requires years of hard work with seemingly no response in a tough parish, and sometimes it seems to happen quickly (usually for someone else!). We can never tell God what to do or get him to act when we want, but he does listen to our anger when it is for the poor and downtrodden and the children and he is pleased that we are angry and want to do something.

Sometimes other Christians seem to hear conflicting messages and get in the way. Sometimes we are united and work together. We don’t know why. All we know is that God is sovreign and will do it his way, but he does want and use our energy and work, when we let him guide us.Our prayers seem to channel a divine energy and God says don’t give up even when the result isn’t what we thought was the right one. I can’t explain it, maybe a vicar can?

22 02 2012
Edge

I’m not much cop at physics or sociology, but I know enough to know that everything we do and everything we say does impact upon the world in some way. Maybe the reactions are not always equal and opposite, but changing the world everyday in some way is what everyone and every thing on the planet is doing. We can’t help it.
The challenge, of course, is for us to try and change the world for the better.
Which is a whole other set of challenges.
If it was up to me, I would change your world for the better right away, but what that might look like and how I should go about it might be open to interpretation.
And also, because I’m selfish, I would probably be working to further my own agenda in some complicated and subterranean way. Trust me, you can’t trust me!
So, I probably need to try and discern what God is doing to improve your world first, and then ask him to help me to help him to help you.
And now I’m already confused and I haven’t done anything yet!
But if people like you keep challenging people like me, something will definitely change somewhere, somehow, for someone.
If we keep working through the ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ stuff, some things will get better.
And some things which have the capacity to make things worse might at least be countered or neutralised.
It really won’t stay like this. Things will change. Believe me. But how, and how quickly, and whether for better or worse, depends on who does what when and how and with whom.
I hope God knows what he is doing, trusting it to people like us…

22 02 2012
c2drl

Somebody today paid the ultimate price for trying to change the world. I don’t know whether Marie Colvin (the reporter killed in Syria) was a Christian or not, but I do know that she cared and wanted to find and tell the truth in situations where people were getting hurt. She had already lost an eye from shrapnel reporting on a previous war, she knew the risks and she went on going into dangerous situations so that the truth could be told and maybe, just maybe the world could be changed. I think I know what God thinks of her.

Few people are called to pay that sacrifice but playing your role in changing the world can be hard work, sometimes even dangerous, for instance when as a Vicar you let somebody into your house, but nobody ever said discipleship was easy. As we see so many people suffering in this country and overseas, while the ruling classes and the ‘top’ people get richer and richer maybe God is saying to more of us, stop discussing rearranging the chairs in Church, stop moaning about the music and get off your backside and do your bit for me.

How many Christians does it take to change a world? Just one to start.

23 02 2012
peppaminty

I am what they call a ‘practising Anglican’….. it means that I don’t know what I am doing and I never will, I am learning all the time. I go out into the world, especially after Church on Sunday or at Wayfarer’s on a Wednesday with a renewed spring in my step and love in my heart.

If one solitary person could feel the way that I do, knowing that Jesus is in my soul, then the world could possibly be changed by that one man (or woman or child) But don’t be fooled into thinking that you aren’t changing things already….. it only takes one smile or a ‘hello’ to a stranger or a friend to make them feel on top again. It is situations like this, that feel insignificant to you or me, that can set the tracks in motion.

Also, it is those who change things and never say it in public that will be rewarded by God.

19 04 2012
Kevin

Thanks Peppaminty, those are very wise and thoughtful words.

4 07 2012
Tarnya

I’ve loved reading these posts and kevin i love your honesty in ur writing. I get so frustrated with myself about wanting to change the world and not having a clue where to start!! I know now that its all about capturing God’s heart, dying to myself in giving him my heart in the state that its in. and in exchange letting God love me and me first accepting that even after everything i’ve done or messed up in the past that he has forgiven and now have his gracious love poured out on me. until i fully grasp this i dont feel i can love others fully until i know that first God loved so that i can now love as he does.

I believe for the unexpected to happen. I just wanted to say that i stand with you in prayer and that unity matters to God and there is ‘one flock and one shepard’ john 10:16

I just read recently in an amazing book called ‘out live your life’ by Max lucado…’ what if the missing ingredient for changing the world is teamwork?? “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my father in heaven goes into action…” Matt 18

I’m excited, also what an opportunity with the olympics coming to London, a chance for our very own pentecost as they all came to gather from different countries to come to one place for the festival, this is when God released his Holy spirit on his people and as witness for the many others to see and hear. God loves to get the glory, what better time!!

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