Gandhi is often credited with saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” People debate whether or not he actually said it, but either way, it’s a great quote.
Although Gandhi was not a Christian, what would happen if the Church adopted (and adapted) the quote?
I can think of several things I’d love to see change within the Church. Keeping with the spirit of the quote, however, I know that change has to begin with me and my family.
So without attempting to lay a burden on someone else, here are some things I intend to do over the next year to be the Church I want to see in the world.
1. I will not allow theological differences to keep me from serving my local church and loving my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The global church has been dividing over nuanced theological issues for hundreds of years. Jesus was serious when he prayed for the unity of the Church (John 17:20-23); however, we have not been great at reflecting his heart to the world or each other. Instead of allowing my broadly reformed theological views to cause more division, I will faithfully serve and regularly gather for worship at my local United Methodist Church.
Furthermore, I will not be combative in any way toward those who differ from me on nuanced theological issues. After all, I will spend eternity worshipping King Jesus with these brothers and sisters. In that moment, I’d rather not be apologizing for flippant comments I made about their theology.
Let me be clear. I’m not talking about worshipping with people who don’t profess the Apostles’ Creed or historic Christianity. I simply want to have grace for those who don’t think precisely as I do on every point of doctrine.
2. I will be more compelled by the Word of God than political parties.
The Republican Party is not Jesus. The Democratic Party did not die for my sins and rise again. I will not allow political pressure to keep me from faithfully and accurately handling the Word of truth. Like many, my wife and I wrestled with how to vote during the presidential election. Some of our struggles were founded from Scripture, others were not. We are both professing that God’s written word holds all authority in our life, period. That’s not to say we will not participate in future elections. We just refuse to take our marching orders from anyone or anything outside of Scripture.
3. I will write an encouraging note to my pastor, thanking him for faithfully preaching the Bible and pointing me to Jesus.
I met with my pastor a few weeks before the election. When we sat down, I could tell something was bothering him. I asked him if he was ok and he responded by saying he’d just got off the phone with an angry member. Without getting into much detail, he said the member hadn’t attended church for weeks and was upset about an issue more political in nature than biblical or theological. I remember thinking I wanted to hug him, but social distancing kept me away. I also wanted to encourage him and share with him all the ways he’d pointed me to Jesus over the years. Over the next year, I will sit down and handwrite my pastor a lengthy letter of encouragement. I believe every pastor could use one in this divisive political and cultural climate, probably far more than one.
4. I will commit to using spiritual gifts even when I’m afraid of looking silly.
I could tell you numerous stories of times my wife and I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to encourage someone with a prayer or word, but didn’t. Later, we’d find out that the person was going through a situation which gave incredible clarity to the word we received but never shared. Fear kept us from providing care to someone in need. I desperately want to be used by God; therefore, I’m committing to using spiritual gifts in church even when I’m afraid of looking silly.
5. I will be more than a Sunday Christian.
I’m going all in. The message I hear on Sunday mornings is supposed to equip me for the work of ministry. I refuse to have a consumeristic faith where the goal is to feel good about myself and smile a lot. I’m getting in the trenches. I’m praying for the gift of evangelism and expecting thousands to come to saving faith in Jesus. Why not spend my life proclaiming the best news ever?
You would likely have some different things on your list. What would they be? How can you be the church you want to see in the world?