I was listening to the news. Syria is in deep conflict because they have been ruled by a dictator for years. This was possible because the dominant culture believed in security over personal liberty. The Ukraine is in deep conflict because the dominant culture has valued stability over individual freedoms, security over democratic rule, and economic ties to Russia over economic ties to the west. Middle East experts are telling us that unrest has come not because people want new laws but because people want to live in a new way, inside a new, more diverse, more inclusive culture. How is that different from the religious revolution brought by Jesus? I am convinced Jesus was not saying for us to do new things and try new ways. Jesus was saying it takes a religious revolution to change our culture! Our local churches have not joined the Jesus revolution. We have not challenged the culture of personal convenience discipleship for the revolutionary culture of giving our whole lives to God. We are still operating in a culture of civil religion while Jesus implores us to practice civil disobedience. We are embedded in a pastoral care culture when Jesus calls for us to adopt and adapt to a prophetic word and action culture. We are encapsulated in a culture where local churches celebrate themselves through covered dish dinners while Jesus cries out for the hungry to be fed.
It will do us absolutely no good to incorporate helpful hints for hurtful habits when Christ demands more radical change in our local church culture. We are called to transform the world. How can we transform the world when we are fussing about what hymns we will sing in worship, and how prayer concerns are to be handled? We are overwhelmed by a sensitivity culture that refuses to hurt anyone's feelings. We have yet to adapt to a culture of dignity and respect for the marginalized. We cannot simply adopt new "best practices" in ministry. We must adapt to a new culture that is committed to transforming the world and refusing to let anyone get in the way of that sacred duty. The church for tomorrow must live into a new culture of transformation.