When we hear the statement ‘change your world’ most of us, if we are Christian leaders, think about what we call evangelism. If we could just get people to change from unbeliever to believer, from faithless to faith-filled, from far-from-God to child-of-God, from heathen to Christian, it would change our world. However, this is NOT the angle I want to challenge myself with this week.
For two millennia now the words of Jesus’ instruction have hung in the expanse of human life for his followers, “Be in the world, but not of it.” That statement has been interpreted six ways to Sunday, but whatever the interpretation we are at a time in history that much more suggests we are ”of the world but not in it.”
Sociologists and researchers such as George Barna tell us that the lifestyle of the world is pretty consistent with the lifestyle of those who claim the name of Christ. Not only that, but less than 15% of all church attenders (less for those who claim to be Christian) share their faith and live redemptive lifestyles. When it comes to the clergy the numbers are frighteningly similar. Church leaders, such as ministers and pastors, are much too busy to be in normal, everyday, embedded-in-the-world relationships with sinners and the like.
So, our dilemma is this…
- We are like the world but we are not really relating to it very well.
- We are not distinguished as different for a purpose as much as different because we are satnd-offish.
- Our world is dying around us in hellacious ways and we are too busy to care.
- We equate success and effectiveness, as leaders, by our Sunday activity instead of our weekly lifestyle choices.
- Followers of Jesus do not have leaders who truly ‘show’ the way but rather are great at teaching it.
- We devolve into keeping the church going instead of expanding the Kingdom by living the mandate of our leader.
So, my challenge (and I hope, yours) is to change my world.
- Develop relationships, as Jesus did, that are intentionally redemptive. That means it has to be outside the church world.
- Commit personally to live a distinctive lifestyle that says something about your values. Don’t choose to live as well as you can economically, but live at 80%, or less, just because you can and you can use your extra resources as redemptive tools.
- Make Monday through Saturday more important than Sunday. (As Andy Stanley says, “Cheat the Church.”)
- Create a discernable and visible way of life that others can reproduce in redemptive manner.
- Simplify your worship experiences into encounters between our soul and God with the least amount of hyperbole possible.
- Finally, get out of the world you’ve created and enter the one around you, it is God’s.