‘Fix the problem!’ ‘Stop giving us ideas and just do something!’ ‘What we need is more action, not more discussion...!’ And the list goes on regarding those with frustrated viewpoints toward people and groups to complex world problems like the global food crisis, AIDS, global warming etc.
And it’s true, we do need more action. But it’s also a simplistic answer. Well-thought-out action, not action in any direction, is what we need. If we ever fall foul of acting without consideration of all the important issues, we’re guilty of the ‘ready-fire-aim’ approach. Planning has to be the nexus of action.
For one thing, the very people who deride groups, organisations and society itself for not acting well or quickly enough are often the very ones who poo-poo ideas, stalling real progress. And I hate to say it, but the modern evangelical Church is not devoid of these people; and occasionally their leaders espouse these ways too.
What sort of person sits astride the philosophical fence simultaneously criticising a lack of progress whilst promoting bureaucracy?
The legalism of constrained, narrow and extraneous theologies is threatening to strangle the Church, or make it irrelevant, in an age which might otherwise turn out to be the Church’s greatest hour (barring the beginning)--its, and the world’s, moment of truth.
There is a place that the Pharisees couldn’t tolerate, a place that Jesus Christ called home; the real mission of evangelicalism today and always.
I love the salience of Rick Warren’s theology toward life. He says,
“If you say that people of faith cannot do humanitarian care because of their beliefs, you just ruled out most of the world. The actual number of atheists is quite small outside of Europe and Manhattan.
“That’s why I can work with gays, who I don’t happen to agree with, for instance, on what they view should be defined as marriage. In fact, when we began to develop our ministry with AIDS, we were far more willing to work with other people than people were willing to work with evangelical Christians. It was reverse discrimination.”
Isn’t it compelling that Rick Warren’s ministry has chosen to make a difference in the real world? Like the very many Christian mission organisations who’re supporting the efficacy of third world communities by helping them develop futures for themselves--that’s the love of God manifest in flesh. And other faith-based groups are no doubt doing the same.
Making a difference is not just a matter of preaching the Word of God. It’s making a tangible difference in people’s lives, and particularly, like in Rick Warren’s case, in the lives of those struggling in sin, with no shred of judgment in sight.
After all, how many sinners did Jesus judge and condemn? He paradoxically befriended them.
Isn’t it sad that an ailing world would rather not work with disengaged evangelical Christians? How could we have gotten this part of our mission from God so wrong?
Does not the Christian, most of all, understand that love transcends all boundaries? Why is it that we’d insist on not working with Hindu’s, Buddhists or Muslims? Why wouldn’t we choose to speak our love in a language that transcends words?
Is it possible, perhaps, to evangelise without words?
Wasn’t it St. Francis of Assisi who coined the phrase, “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”
What would Jesus do? For all the wrist bands brandishing the WWJD slogan in the world, would he (that is Jesus), in this age, have knocked back opportunities to love like we might do? And all to satisfy our own flesh-driven fetishes to ‘eat, drink and be merry!’ We grow fat on the blessings of God and we miss the point of it all.
But aren’t we not supposed to not love?
One thing for sure, our modern society (Christian or not) has very little time to become passionate for the cause of those less well off. It is apathy and not empathy that characterises the vast majority of us.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.
 Christianity Today, April (Web-only), 2009, Interview by Sarah Pulliam Q & A: Rick Warren. Posted 4/08/2009 09:42AM, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/aprilweb-only/114-31.0.html?start=2