Everything Must Change

Yeah, that’s the book I’m nearly done.

And that’s the same book that I don’t know what to do with.


Here’s a few pieces…

The first is a quote from a fellow named Duane Clinker:

“As humans, we inherit a certain history. We inherit sin caused by decisions made in previous eras. We inherit a sort of sin ‘frozen’ into the institutions and social arrangements within which we are birthed.”

A discussion of systemic evil could run for months. But I note that it’s a topic seldom addressed within circles where I’ve grown up. However, once the concept is unveiled, there is no denying the reality of such systems and powers within our world.

With that on the table, let’s add this bit from one David Lowes Watson:

“Only a fraction of our sins are personal. By far, the greater part are sins of neglect, sins of default, our social sin, our systemic sin, our economic sin. For these sins Christ died, and continues to die. For these sins Christ atoned, and continues to atone…. As long as evangelism presents a gospel centered on the need for personal salvation, individuals will acquire a faith that focuses on maximum benefits with minimal obligations, and we will change the costly work of Christ’s atonement into the pragmatic transaction of a salvific contract…. The sanctifying grace of God in Jesus Christ is meant not just for the sinner but also for a society beset by structural sin.”

Perhaps that section speaks more loudly to me (working within a church setting) than to the average citizen. It strikes a chord with me, but the tone that resonates doesn’t leave me with a sense of clarity of where to go now, as I often long for.

Let’s add the ever-solid voice of John Stott. These words were written over 25 years ago:

What will posterity see as the chief Christian blind spot of the last quarter of the twentieth century? … I suspect it will have something to do with the economic oppression of the Third World and the readiness with which western Christians tolerate it, and even acquiesce in it. Only slowly is our Christian conscience being aroused to the gross economic inequalities between the countries of the North Atlantic and the southern world of Latin America, Africa, and most parts of Asia. Total egalitarianism may not be a biblical ideal. But must we not roundly declare that luxury and extravagance are indefensible evils, while much of the world is undernourished and underprivileged.”

That’s three little bits. If you’ve read the book yourself, you may understand the “head-spinning-feeling-swamped” kind of feeling I have right now. I’m left with little else but…

What do we do with this, my friends?

I mean, where do we start at being part of the solution? And how do we use our influence (small as it may be) to multiply our efforts?

2 thoughts on “Everything Must Change

  1. yeah, this is a tough discussion. i know what i believe about it, but often don’t know where to begin and often live in direct contradiction to my knowledge of these facts.

    i don’t know. i just know that addressing this is the beginning. but i feel like i’ve been addressing it for years now. when will the action start? maybe tomorrow? maybe tomorrow…

  2. Thanks for posting this Jay. I also read Wade’s comments on a more recent post. I think he is right on!

    I haven’t read this book (yet) but I struggle through such questions in most of my university classes. It is completely overwhelming! As Wade mentioned, it is easy to become complacent because the problems are too huge. This makes me think of a discussion I’ve had several times since returning from Zambia. It goes something like this:
    Other: So people over there are just SO poor eh?
    Me: Yes, yes they are. But somehow they have much to give.
    Other: But I mean I can’t even imagine how poor they are!!
    Me: Yes they are very poor…
    Other: And the saddest part is, there is nothing we can do!
    Me: [dumbfounded and confused how someone who has never been there can make such a conclusion…politely ends the conversation and walks away.]

    You get the idea. At first, these repeated conversations were very depressing to me because it is obvious to me that there IS much that we can do. In fact, there is MORE WORK THAN WE CAN EVER ACTUALLY! It didn’t take me long to realize that it is my responsibility to start speaking words of solution, rather than just walk away and be depressed by such encounters.

    My solution so far has been to lead the ‘other’ to think of sponsoring a student. I think that this is key because it doesn’t seem beyond our grasp. It doesn’t involve overthrowing the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, or the World Trade Organization. Such systems are beyond most of us. But the effects of sponsorship are HUGE. If every person that I know sponsored a child, there would easily be 300 students receiving education and gaining skills which will improve themselves, their communities, and ultimately their country. THAT is huge! Without education, they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Economists would call such charitable programs Alternative Income Redistributive Measures – and I like this because it describes exactly what MUST happen: the Rich must give to the Poor. Obviously we can’t wait for systems of the world to bring equality, it is a bottom-up process, rather than top-down. And if are upset about the ‘world systems’ not doing what we want them to, then we have to just go ahead and do it anyway! (This brings on an interesting discussion of poverty in Canada and our own ‘social programs’ and the role of Christians…but I won’t go there now).

    I realize that my ‘solution’ doesn’t encompass every aspect of inequality that is a part of a discussion…but it has been my answer to that “now what” question.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Jason.

    PS: Can I borrow your book?!

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