Friday, January 20, 2006

Creative Discontent: Throwing Stones at Stained Glass Windows or Remodeling from Within?

A few months back, Scott Owings handed out a paper called Creative Discontent. I wish I could find it because it was very good and really crystallized some ideas that I'd been thinking about. The basic idea of the piece was that discontent is not a bad thing in and of itself, but discontent without action is completely useless.

Many of you that have been reading my blog or listening to me talk at almost any point know that I've had some discontent with the state of Christianity and the church over the last couple of years. And I agree with the paper that discontent can be good. I think change is generally good. Something that doesn't change is dead and to be discontent with stagnation is not bad.

However, to be discontent with no action resulting is one of the most destructive and useless things I can imagine. Do I believe that the church has had and continue to have problems? Absolutely. It can too easily turn into a self-perpetuating entity that becomes more concerned with keeping itself going rather than taking the Gospel to the world. It can become a club where exclusion is the principle, rather than the loving inclusion Jesus showed.

I think the place where followers of Jesus need to be is in a place of critical love for the church. We have to be willing to look at our problems and think about where our message doesn't match up with the message of Jesus. We have to read the Gospels and not just see the salvation message that Jesus talks of, but the life changing message that he reveals. That Jesus' message was not simply about how to go to heaven after we die, but to bring the Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.

Do you know what would change the world? People actually following what Jesus says! People being willing to go the extra mile to show defiance to a system that puts them under foot. People being willing to stand up to persecution and physical violence by standing up in defiance of that persecution and turning the other cheek saying, "Not only will I not return your violence with violence, I will let you strike my other cheek and you can show everyone that the only power you hold over me is physical."

Should we be discontent with the church as it stands now? In many ways, yes. But if that discontent doesn't lead us to make changes in the corporate life of that church and equally as important in our lives and how we live in them in the pursuit of the life of Christ, then we are clanging cymbals, useless speeches, and empty keystrokes.

May I and all those in the Body of Christ live in the passionate pursuit of His life.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Excellent thoughts, my friend. It's very easy to let "holy discontent" devolve into bitterness, apathy, and isolation. I hope that we can be prophetic and catalytic rather than annoying, nagging whiners.

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