In this century, the Christian faith seems confrontational at its core. The issues we stubbornly choose to tackle and emphasize--whether creationism, theism, eschatology or any culture war on the political scene--indicate that we feel threatened and may be missing the point.
Conservative Christian culture is producing increasingly overweight, capitalist, isolated men and women with little care for migrants, the marginalized, the environment, and transformative health and spirituality. How is this not a reactionary and short-lived response to the twenty-first century? If all we have to offer is a “No” to every question people care about, how will churches keep from imploding like the Soviet Union?
The world continues to spin and others explore and live out these essential matters. I am not a fatalist, and will not give up my Christian faith (and the church) that easily. Though our future is unknown, I am hopeful that the community started by Jesus of Nazareth will come to fruition and His Kingdom will triumph. To be on the same page with Him, Ekklesia the church must be able to identify with two relentless sister-realities. Their names? Consciousness and Suffering.
What is consciousness? Is there purpose at work in the universe? How does one tap into it? These soul-searching questions—and the paths that lead to them—lead to tomorrow’s spirituality. Science and secularism have yet to come up with convincing answers to these questions.
Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This verse confronts our world which has much bread and little Word. Christians should be at the forefront in providing prayer centers and spiritual retreats, and practicing the presence of God to anyone who is seeking transformation.
What is suffering? Why does it exist? What is our responsibility in alleviating it? For whom and for what? As we become less self-centered, we are realizing the importance of caring for our planet and the fullness therein, from the “least of our brothers” to animal and plant welfare. Let’s not react to this, as it can be used for good in the Kingdom of God.
What we do with suffering will impact how we care for the poor among us and for God’s creation. What if we would teach and live out Philippians 2--self-emptying, servant stewardship instead of criticizing people and ridiculing them for taking care of their surroundings?
In the twenty-first century, how can we get involved in God's great work? By caring for and fostering life in all its dimensions; by demonstrating mature spirituality and prayer; by worshipping God and obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ without reacting to our neighbors through passive-aggressive isolation; and by giving full attention and care to Muslim refugees in particular.
Jesus of Nazareth has much to say about consciousness and suffering. Our response will be the deciding factor in whether the church contributes to this age, or dies and makes way for others to take on this great work. After all, God can use stones to accomplish His purposes (Matthew 3:9).
“Salt is good but if it loses its flavor, what is it good for?” (Matthew 5:13). This is the great work: “Building up the Temple of the Lord. Brother, won’t you help me? Sister, won’t you help me?”
Written by: Y.L.