As Christians we are called to strive for the world as it should be, to build God’s kingdom come. Many people have different opinions about how we should get from the world as it is to the world as it should be. I have a lot of friends who thinkwe need to burn the whole system down, to create a new world from the ashes of the old. I’m sympathetic to this view. I think the world as it should be will be a complete rejection of the world as is. But I also realize that overthrowing the current order is probably too tall a task to ask of those who most want to see it done. Maybe the old order will pass away on its own due to forces beyond our control. We are, after all, barreling towards what seems to be total ecological collapse.
But until that happens, we are forced to work within the confines of the world as it is. That is why I want to devote my professional career to congregational organizing. Congregations have always been a great source of power for movements for social change, from abolition, to women’s suffrage, to the civil rights movement, to environmental justice. I think this is a source of power that has fallen by the wayside as religion has retreated from the public sphere and the American left has dwindled to its most radical elements. Most Americans are not radical though. They can see that the system isn’t working, but they fear radical change more than they fear the status quo.
Those are the people I want to reach, and those are the people who fill the pews of our churches and houses of worship. Christians worship a God who wants us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner. I think many Christians hunger to do those things but they don’t know how. Or if they do, they perform ministries of mercy, but not justice. They give food to the hungry, when they could be giving them the means to grow their own food. They give clothes to the naked, when they could be helping them get jobs so they can buy their own clothes. There are better ways, to do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly. We can bring about the world as it should be.