Saturday, April 01, 2006

Life as a Revolution

The truth of the matter is that we have been given many gifts, abilities, and opportunities to bring glory to the King, not just for a season of life, but for all of life. Intrinsically, as Image-bearers of God and stewards of Creation (Genesis 1:27,28), our lives should be about the business of revealing God’s Image to the world which we inhabit in a way that glorifies the Trinity and cares for the world. At once, we have been given both a privilege and a responsibility that, unfortunately, we Christians on the whole have handled poorly. I believe that a large part of this poor performance roots itself in a limited understanding and focus on what it means to live as a Christian in the world. So, each of the next three Saturday-Posts on LocalGlobal will walk through an element of life as an Image-bearer and Steward. The Posts will explore an overall theme of living a revolutionary-life founded in Christ and the Church as a Steward in a certain place.

Founded in Christ and the Church

We must begin where we must begin every time, with the acknowledgment of one not-so-simple fact: our need for Christ the King. Admittedly, we live in a complicated time, a time where life, relative to past generations and civilizations, is easy. Our time is also complex because the world would have us believe that our lives are about us as individuals building our own little kingdoms that serve our purposes. Because of these two factors, ease and short-sighted-individuality, we quickly lose sight of our need for our Creator and the world’s need for a solid expression of Christ. And quickly, our lives devolve into an effort to seek comfort and our sensitivity to the world’s need for Christ grows dull. The logical conclusion of these realities is frightening when you think about it.

So, what does a life look like that is not centered on ease and individual fulfillment? What does a life founded in Christ and the Church look like? Well, it looks like a lot of things, most of which are counter to the normal. In reality, we are all shaped by something, some external voice or pressure. Whether it is the voice of fashion or of wealth or of despair or of boredom or of relationship, etc. there is a force that is shaping us, and the shape we take largely dictates the life we live. To live a life of revolution that glorifies the King and pronounces care for the world, we must be shaped by Him, our Creator. To be sure, this is not a one-time transaction that occurs and then all of the sudden we live perfect lives. Instead, the process of being shaped by our Creator occurs over a life-time. The dispensation and posture we take on when we realize our need to submit and serve the King is quite important. And, the out-pouring of love that is the fruit of a life lived in recognition of the depth of our King’s love for us is equally as important. We must allow ourselves to not simply think about this idea of a life rooted in Christ, but we must live this life. If we allow Him to shape us, the life we live will express Him and His love for us, others, and the world.

This process is nothing less than a revolution, and it starts with recognition, and it continues in the exposure and acceptance of our weakness and need, and it results in a life that glorifies our Lord. But, it does not end there. It is dangerous to think only of ourselves, which is what we tend toward. It is frightening to consider where this self-centered thought has Christians and the Church today. Over the past generations, the Church has all but extracted itself from the public square, from the schools, from the marketplace, from the media, from medicine, from technology. On the inside, growth and vibrancy has become stifled. On the outside, we have been made obsolete as our opinions and efforts are disregarded by our culture. So, where does this leave the Church? Well, sadly, it leaves us in a compromised situation where we have not taken seriously the need to express Christ through the semblance of a community of faith. The Church has been hindered in its ability to serve the world, as Christ served the world, because we have not wanted to mingle with that which is not the Church. In my opinion, this is a severe problem. If the Church is not able to interact with those who do not know Christ then we are not living in light of our call to love our neighbors and to care for the world. In John 17:18, the hope that Christ has for his followers is clear: Christ wants us to move into the world to participate and live, as a communal expression of Christ (a.k.a. the Church), which bears the Image of the Creator and in doing so reveals the King to those who do not know Him or who have forgotten Him.

Christians do not do this well. It is complicated and difficult. It is a burden, it is hard, and it requires dependence on Jesus. We are to worship by living, and live for the King. But, all too often we worship convenience and live for ourselves. To live well for the King, we must recognize our need for Jesus and fasten ourselves to Him. We must bind our hearts and lives together as a community of faith in the hope that as we do bear the Image of our Creator, He will reveal Himself to the world, and he will straighten that which is crooked and bring light to the dark places.

As we begin to take seriously the privilege and responsibility we have as Image-bearers of God, we begin to realize that what is most amazing about this whole venture is that our Creator uses us, very weak people, to bring His truth, goodness and beauty to a world that desperately needs it. Let us be motivated by His kindness, grace and mercy, and let us move with confidence into a world that needs to know its King.

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