I’m in a pretty sour mood right now. At first it was because I’ve been hurting for that poor girl in Florida who got beat up for a YouTube video. Now I’m ticked off at her dad.
Her parents blamed the Internet for the incident.
“These Web sites are creating a space for criminal activity, beating, fights,” Patrick Lindsay said. […]
“I’m very upset with these Internet sites,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, MySpace is the anti-Christ for children. I’m going to carry this as far as I can.”
Talk about tilting at windmills. How about blaming the girls that did this? How about blaming the people who watch the videos, thereby encouraging things like this? Even some indirect blame on the parents would have been acceptable…but blaming the internet and MySpace?
Granted, there’s plenty wrong with MySpace, which is why my profile still has a picture of my wife about 4 months pregnant. But when it comes to six people deciding to beat up an innocent person – Hell, even a guilty person – let’s place the blame squarely where it belongs: on the perpetrators.
Ok, now that I’m over that, here’s the real point of this post. There are some Christians who believe that the task of the Church is to restore the world, whether that be through service or control. The group who truly believes that we are to do it by control (Dominionism) is so small that it barely merits discussion. Sure, you’ll hear people, particularly those like Andrew Sullivan (though he prefers the term “christianist”), attribute these qualities to “many evangelicals”…that’s bollocks.
Those who believe that we are to do it through service and love have a larger following. They believe that as a result of the influence of Christians, and good people from other religions (or no religion), the world is getting better. Progress has been, is being, and will be made. They are Progressives.
While all Christians agree that it’s our duty to fight poverty and injustice, Progressives believe that we can eliminate them. While all Christians are aware of Jesus’ prayer for unity in the church, Progressives believe we can unify the world, eliminating division and violence. Laudable aspirations…but are they realistic?
If you were to ask a Progressive Christian, they would tell you that the world is a better place than it was when Christ came, and it’s better than it was a thousand years ago, and a hundred, and fifty. They will tell you that the world is getting better all the time. I just don’t see it.
Sure, more people can read and write, and people aren’t dying of dysentery (in the developed world). We don’t have people like Genghis Khan, Alexander, Darius, or Marcus Aurelius running around taking over small countries. There’s no slavery in the West. Not the traditional kind, anyway. And we haven’t repeated the crusades. But what is going on?
More people can read and write, but fewer consider it important. Besides, being able to read isn’t important any more. The great conquerors haven’t been emulated in the past millennium, but what about the warlords of Africa? The Taliban in Afghanistan? Hezbollah? There’s no traditional slavery in the West, but there is sexual slavery. And there are 10 year old boys being kidnapped in the night to serve in the armies of those African warlords. But things are better.
Are people more generous? Less selfish? Is there more or less social unrest in the world? Here’s the kicker: are there more or fewer poor people in the world (by percentages) than when Jesus walked through Jerusalem? Is there more or less injustice in the world?
The natural tendency here would be to place blame. Blame someone for “the increasing gap between the rich and poor.” Blame someone for the spread of injustice. Blame someone for the consumer culture. But the blame doesn’t matter. The point is
There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
The world doesn’t get better. This incident in Florida reinforced that for me. The world is as it has always been and will be…until Christ returns to renew it. But He will do that. Not us.
I see the “progress” in the world like a weather system. It’s always raining somewhere. And it’s always sunny somewhere. But you can bet that even though it’s sunny now, the rain and snow will come. There will be tornadoes and tsunamis and earthquakes. There will be floods, hurricanes, mudslides, and avalanches. The sun will shine again, but the rain and snow will come again just as quickly.
So what do we do? “This is a bit discouraging, Charles,” you might say. And in a way you’d be right. But we’re called to change lives. We’re called to reach out to the least of those among us. We’re called to love, and to serve, and to take up our crosses and follow Christ. Should it matter that the world won’t be changed when we’re finished? No, because lives will be changed, and we will be changed.