Some ideas about how we all might attempt to change the world.
by Jeff Neuman-Lee
I've been doing some work with FossilFuelFreeDenver.org aiming at helping to keep the worst effects of climate change from happening. It's a big problem. How does one non-violently work for change in this world? The same issues actually affect our work at Whittier Community Church.
2. – Work with other people.
When we bring show and live into Jesus' way (the Kingdom of God) there are two sides to our work: the technical side and the social side. The technical side asks "what is really there?" "How do changes physically happen?" The social side asks: "how can humans make the choices, individually and corporately, that fit with the best technical understandings?" (The herding cats question.) Both sides of the problem are immense and complex. The complexity multiplies when both sides are seen together. It is certainly bigger than any one individual or group can master. We realize that we ourselves have only a limited set of skills, that even as we learn new skills we cannot learn enough, that no one person or group has all the answers.
At the same time we understand that we each have a part in the work. The leaders at Whittier know that there are other groups out there doing other essential actions, some groups we need to connect with, some groups we may disagree with, some groups we actually don't understand and plenty of groups whose strategies and methods are at best complementary to our own. And since we can't understand it all, our default (until shown otherwise) is to see that each group (and each individual effort) is necessary to make the kingdom happen here in this time. Sure, Prince of Peace's goal is finally to save the world for the great relationship that is had with God, as it should be. But so do many, many others march forward to the tune of that same good goal. We have no grandiose illusions that it is only us, but we do know that our doing our part is essential to getting the job done.
True transformations of human culture do not come about from one group dominating another, but rather by some people showing the power of something new to the others and inviting them to join in its use. This method is part and parcel with the message of the church. Jesus announces the Good News. He lives it, even to the point of death and death cannot contain him. Jesus lives and the world slowly but surely comes to reflect the light of God.
Mundane examples might include the dramatic transformation of the global human culture to varieties of capitalism, much of which has been accomplished without warfare. Or, ironically, so also is the massive dispersion of the use of fossil fuels an example of this power. (Both of these examples are mixtures of good and bad, and, as all work of humanity, both are judged in the light of God.) People see that something works better than what they had been doing, and fit it to their own situations.
That is the world in which we live. We simply do what we believe to be right, we yearn to be part of the healing of our human community and find ourselves in the midst of others who are with us. Together we need to show the world that it has a far better future in Jesus' kingdom of God.