"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

02 November 2010

Hope N' Change N'at

Over at First Things my friend David Mills has published a worthy read reflecting on the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Reflecting on counter-culture of a generation now grown and the urge to make the world a better place, David remarks that
The young counterculture’s self-conception—its ideology—was as fluffy as an angora rabbit. What exactly it meant no one quite knew, except that the old world (their parents’ world) was dying and deserved it and the new one was a-borning and would be much better, if not transcendently better.

Tongue slightly in cheek, I dropped my friend a line: "Fluffy as an angora rabbit"... You know, if you don't groom the rabbit's fluff often enough it'll choke on its own fluff and die? Interesting how the metaphor extends."

While this is true about rabbits, it is also true about our own culture. We are, due to a number of factors, only a few of which are actually outside our control, about to choke on our own fluff. As a people, we have wholly bought into the humanist idea that the world progresses, that each generation can be better than the last. What begins as the arrogance of youth has no other recourse than to end as a jaded old man; because the more things try to change, the more they stay the same.

I do think our optimism comes from God, for we follow a God who wants us to change the world, to turn the world upside down. We follow a God who allows us to enter into his revolutionary incarnation and ministry, his unfathomable victory over death by means of death. But the mistake we make is that we think we are the ones doing the world-changing, when really the world changing has been done and will be done, but not by us. We think we are the ones that cause transition, but we are merely allowed to participate in transition. We think each generation better than the last because we are the most recent generation; but an eternal perspective reveals each generation just as fallen and needy as the one that came before.

God is God, unchanging. Man is man, likewise in essence unchanging. To believe anything less is not Christian, but humanism with the process theologian's idea that God changes and grows, the pagan idea that the world is deity, and the squishy fluff of an undereducated, naively isolated culture all rolled into one. It is, in the end, about as substantial as that rabbit fluff.

One commentator to David's article noted that we have made much "progress" as a culture, ending slavery, equal rights for minorities, voting all around. But have we? Or have we simply substituted one persecuted people group for another? My Korean born son can live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same schools, vote in the same elections (in about thirteen years, anyway!) as his Celtic brothers, but is the world really any better? After all, my Muslim friends are suspect in airports, my Christian friends barred from public prayer. Our morality is legislated by government and culture to "tolerate" but they cannot force us to love; and so tolerance masks resentment, and nothing changes, really.

David's article is poignant and very worth your time... For don't we wish we could indeed change the world? I'm still young enough to want to be a revolutionary. I'm still naive enough to march to different beat. But I'm now old enough to know that I'm not the world changer, it is Jesus who must be the revolutionary. I cannot march to my beat, but to his. I'm still young enough that part of me refuses to accept that his beat will not be heard by all, that the world will not change until the final days. And maybe that's as it should be. The hope and change comes from the Messiah, the life giver and the writer of the future... not from the works of man.

I'm not sure where to end this. The naive revolutionary in me wants to scream, "stop inhaling your own fluff" as if that would make the world indeed stop and change its path. But it won't. We can't change the world, we can only change lives. So maybe that is the place to end... with one life, one soul, my own, weaning itself off the diet of fluff and onto substantial food.

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