Thursday, February 15, 2007

Come the Revolution

My week's having a bit of a revolutionary theme. This week I got round to watching "Moulin Rouge" with its own powerful rendition of The Children of the Revolution used to bracket and background the movie and key scenes. I was blown away by several scenes, especially the excellent medley of love songs sung in the elephant room and Roxanne. The irony of these children of the revolution being as much under the power of the wealthy ruling class as they were before (business instead of royalty) and the use of love songs that are the backdrop to our contemporary lives being used to highlight the rampant hedonism of the period portrayed were insightful and profound. What we might look back and criticise in that generation we have fully embraced in our own perhaps?

The other Revolution in my thinking is the title of George Barna's book that I've nearly finished. Its a wonderful little book, very readable and very direct. Barna has thrown his lot in with, and is seeking to clarify and encourage the role of a new breed of Christian he sees emerging in the USA. He attempts to codify some of the key characteristics, and explain why these new spiritual revolutionaries are sitting very lightly to established church structures. In essence he thinks they are too savvy to give their time, energy and resources to anything other than that which pushes forwards God's agenda. It's a challenging read.

Towards the end of the book he outlines the ways that revolutionaries might be changed by participating in the revolution. One of the changes he sees is a realigning of personal identity. The true revolutionary doesn't have to act, it's part of who they are. Their whole world becomes wrapped in the revolutionary endeavour, everything is seen through the lens of the revolution, especially their own sense of self and mission. He writes a few lines that struck me forcefully,

"Let me also point out that a major reason why most local churches have little influence on the world is that their congregants do not experience this transformation in identity. Our research indicates that churchgoers are more likely to see themselves as Americans, consumers, professionals, parent, and unique individuals than zealous disciples of Jesus Christ. Until that self-image is reoriented, churches will not have the capacity to change their world. After all, a revolution is a dangerous and demanding undertaking; it is not for the minimally committed."

(Revolution, by George Barna. 2005 Tyndale)

Is this really why we struggle. Can we forget (to a certain extent) the challenges we face by changing society? Is the real key to seeing the Kingdom of God established, strengthened and extended a true revolution in the self-identity of every person who would claim to follow Jesus, and if that's so, why isn't that what's happening now?

It's providing a lot of food for thought, and I'll need to find places to turn those thoughts into helpful discussion. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

No comments: