The Great Sin of the Western Church?
Last week I wrote about the way that my Zambia has effected me and one of the things that came from it is that we’re hosting a new small group in our house on Sunday nights. We were talking in this new group about how easy it is to departmentalize our lives and so easily miss how the gospel actually calls us to live differently from how we are. Thoughts went to things such as the crusades, the church in Nazi Germany, the white church and segregation during the civil rights movement, etc.
Here’s the question that came to us. In 200 years, what will be the great sin that our culture has been blind to? The more we talked, the more it seems likely that it will be our inability to see how quickly and unquestionably we have accepted the cultures view of materialism and consumerism.
Will people look back at the church in America in the early 2000’s and wonder, “How could they so easily and unconsciously have so much stuff when there were so many people in desperate poverty all over the world?.”
Now, we’re really good at rationalizing and justifying all of this. Sure, there might be some truth to these rationalizations. But, last time I checked, just because you can rationalize it doesn’t make it okay. The church in the Southern United States found ways to rationalize their segregation. That didn’t make it right…
Listen, I don’t have all the answers here. I don’t know what God is calling us to exactly. All I know is that He’s begun the process of showing me how I have been “conforming to the patterns of this world” and how I am in desperate need of a “renewing of my mind.”
We’ll see where this leads…
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Tom Sine’s new book, The New Conspirators and it has been a great companion these last two weeks. He does a great job of deconstructing with solid data and statistics how our way of life just does not work for 95% of the world. Sure, it works great for the rich and the really rich, but it doesn’t work too well for the vulnerable middle class and the poor. He also presents in scary fashion how much we in the West buy into the world’s view of “the good life.” He argues that we need a new (Kingdom) way forward and he does a great job of pulling the wool off our eyes to show the real world that we life in.
On page 201 he writes,
“The only way poverty will become history is for those of us whom God has entrusted with God’s generous resources to critically evaluate our own lives and priorities. It is estimated that today over 200 million Christians live in dire poverty. Isn’t there something terribly wrong, in the international body of Christ, when some of us live palatially and other Christians can’t keep their kids fed? Isn’t it past time to recognize that we live in an interconnected global village in which there is no longer such a thing as a ‘private’ lifestyle choice?”
He also writes on page 227:
“Bruce Bradshaw in his book Change Across Cultures suggests that the Scripture calls us to a much greater conversion – much more than the forgiveness of sins and receiving God into our lives. It also involves the very radical step of inviting the Spirit of God to “transform the narratives that govern our lives,” so that we are empowered to “live a very different story.”
Preach it Tom. You can check out Tom’s ministry at The Mustard Seed Associates.