Talked to a friend today. She was born in another country. We talked about America and whether or not our country would ever return to 1980’s-90’s prosperity. That appears to be the goal if you listen to both politicians and pundits. We both agreed that what we had will probably never return.
Does that make you sad or does it invigorate you?
Prosperity. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Some get rich. Their wealth is supposed to trickle down but it doesn’t trickle as far as we'd like to think it does. Many get poor and poorer. So, a return to prosperity is economic good news for some but not for all. Those on the + side of prosperity don’t like to hear such things, especially if they are Christians. Hearing should cause a leap into action. For some it does. For most it doesn’t.
Our world is changing. 40 years from now white American will no longer be a majority. Western Christian culture will be influenced greatly by eastern Christian thought and practice. What was, won’t be any longer. Those who can’t adapt will spend time yearning for what was. It’s not coming back.
For Christians, our notions of the Gospel have been read through the lens of prosperity and individualism. Others in our world read the Gospel through the lens of ‘good news for the poor’ and the value of community. These different readings are destined to collide. One is about me, the other is about us. Different perspectives.
I wonder if we’re ready, able and willing to engage in the cultural paradigm shift that’s taking place. My guess is that we’re not. Many churches won’t make it. They’ll get old and they’ll die. Many individuals will hold on, encouraged by well meaning but misguided spiritual guides, to a gospel that was created in our image and likeness instead of grabbing hold of a gospel that can transform us into His image.
This is big stuff. What does the old song say …”I wish we’d all been ready.”
Our meism doesn’t allow us to consider much beyond what we already know. Because we think we’re the center of the universe we don’t read much, don’t engage much in interesting conversation with those who are different, and don’t care much about what’s happening in the world unless it impacts our pocketbook. That’s going to be the death of us.
There’s a whole world out there that is reading and learning, and engaging. For them, life is bigger than prosperity. There’s issues of compassion, justice and poverty. We talk about how we can return to a time when we can get ‘rich’ again. The rest of the world reads the gospel and wonders how we can spread the ‘riches’.
So, I wonder what’s going to happen. Who’s going to wake up and start to look at themselves and their faith and start to wonder if what they believe and what shapes who they are is going to be adequate for what’s coming straight at us? My guess is that it’s not going to be many.
I’m wondering if Jesus isn’t going to use the ‘few’ to revive our western hearts and soul into a more transforming vision of what it means to a Christian. Then, let the fun begin.