If you’re in contact with today’s realities and still incurably optimistic about our nation’s future, you’re a rare bird. I’d like to know your secret.
Take our current election year as a case in point.
At the founding of our nation, with a population of roughly three million people, we had seven world-class leaders. Today, with a population one hundred times that number, how many truly world-class leaders have you seen lining the stages of Republican and Democrat debates?
Although this can be pondered from multiple angles, I pose the question simply to share a growing concern regarding two fundamental and serious errors: 1) the belief that anyone (particularly politicians?) is going to deliver us from our woes discloses a lamentable state of “learned helplessness” and childlike dependence, and 2) the belief that “outside-in” fixes will ever be more than bandaids on ills emanating from the root cause: our fallenness and alienation from the Way.
I raise this in part because in January’s newsletter I mentioned that a priority for CRI this year will be to facilitate the movement beyond orthodoxy (right belief) to orthopraxis (right doing).
Unquestionably, orthodoxy is foundational, for “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Yet where has right belief without right action ever accomplished anything of significance? Given the current morass of challenges we face from San Bernardino to Syria, I’d vastly prefer effective change agents who never get it exactly right theologically or theoretically, to inactive or ineffective eggheads who can quote chapter and verse with precision but whose death and disappearance would practically go unnoticed!
This imperative for doing rather than just “being” was clearly not lost on Jesus when He said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24 NIV).
While this could certainly be debated by those committed to other root metaphors, let me suggest that the kingdom of God is first, foremost, and fundamentally about change. From death to life. Darkness to light. Bondage to freedom. Exile to intimacy. Despair to hope. The list could go on.
By implication, this means that our calling as Christians in a desperately needy nation and world entails being agents of transformation as we labor as coworkers with the Ultimate cosmic change agent and practitioner (1 Corinthians 3:9), the One who continuously makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Yet what still trips up vast numbers of Christians? The belief that the problems are so great that we can have no meaningful impact. That whatever we do in the grand scope of things, it ultimately doesn’t matter.
Well, let’s be mindful, as the great Irish statesman Edmund Burke once said, that “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” No doubt Edward Everett Hale had a similar thought in mind when he wrote, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
More contemporarily, and with the vital role your partnership plays in changing our world, I’ll leave you with the memorable words of Dr. Seuss:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”