Wednesday, January 11, 2006

left of center

We cannot help it.

The world is moving away from the influence of the affluent West, and Christianity is moving along with it. The center for world Christendom in the 21stC will be Africa, or perhaps South America, thus having made almost a complete circle of the globe since men first began to follow Jesus around A.D. 30. Europe and the United States have all but seen the end of our Christian dominion.

What does this mean for us? What does it mean for us to take on the role of a supporter? Or surrender our status as a world leader in faith? For many of us, the idea of “giving up” is supremely uncomfortable, and I am certainly not advocating this sentiment; rather, I am asserting that we ought to fight tool and nail for the soil of faith in our land, simultaneously cheering on those whose enthusiasm buoys them above the tide of contested revelation. We ought to cheer those who will become our faith heroes and trendsetters in Christian thought and experience. We ought to welcome them into the conversation early, rather than keeping them at bay until their influence outweighs our own. We ought to learn from the world while we still hold on to the position of privilege, while avoiding the tendency to think that Christianity can be saved by a migration South and East. On the contrary, we must become students so that such a migration might entertain the hope of multiplication rather than relocation.

It has never been the character of those in power to relinquish power when their time has come. Sadly, we are too much like Saul and not enough like David. We hold on to what we have and become adamant that we know “the way”, that we are certain of how to lead, and that others need follow.

But this attitude corrupts.

We need the world.

We need them to show us how to live without prosperity, before we learn through experience. We need them to show us how to love the stranger, before we fade into a truer version of our insides than our appearance. We need the world to show us how to see God without dualism, to love the earth without raping it, to think without modernity or postmodernity or any alternative, and to experience Him within every possible construct, system and lens. We have to understand that He is faithfully represented in all but contained by none, and we need red and yellow, black and white, to show us that He truly has the whole world in His hands.

And that His hand extends to us all.

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