I read a book by Ed Stetzer called the Subversive Kingdom, which I highly recommend every disciple of Christ reads to help us navigate the changing times and how we can become agents of transformation in our culture.
He talked about the church being the rebellion against the rebellion, distinguishing how we respond to the world’s problems differently.
I’ve been a pastor for many years and have been involved in many social causes that affect the poor, social injustices, and the fight against corruption. Unfortunately, many of the efforts we made in the past had a short run of success. I knew there was a better way of doing it but did not learn how to create sustainable change.
We have a third option – in a sense, we go underground. This is not open warfare. Jesus did not march on Rome, wrote a political manifesto. He simply announced that because He had come, the kingdom had come, and it would move out of Jerusalem in surprising ways. Not by might but by the subterfuge of lives lived for King Jesus. – Ed Stetzer
We have to remind ourselves that we are the church – the followers of Jesus. We operate differently. Our chief Lord Jesus tells us not to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. When Jesus started His ministry, he spent 80% of the time with the few and 20% with the crowd.
This shows us that Jesus spends most of his time ministering to people He knew and told to equip and empower them to make disciples. That was the pattern. While reading through the gospels, I felt a conviction that we, as church leaders, should lead this way – the cause of the kingdom should be predominantly personal. We serve and minister to people with names and faces.
The easiest thing to do in a hyper-social media world is to change a profile pic and side with a particular group espousing an ideal with our keyboards. I think there are a place and time for that – yet that would be the easiest thing to do. Admittedly, blogging is one of the most manageable tasks I have today.
Let me share an example. There have been a lot of social injustices happening in the world today. We don’t need to go far – our nation has a long history of social injustice. When our church heard about the killings happening because of the fight against drugs – we knew we needed to do something. We can cry out, write something in our feed, and increase awareness by tweeting about it (which we did), but we knew that was the easiest part. We didn’t have to leave home to do that, yet as people of the Kingdom of God, we understood that we needed to do more.
We partnered with different churches to minister to the drug surrenderees and their families the following month. That required our church to mobilize volunteers who would commit the next 12 weeks to minister to specific individuals hoping to give them a chance to bounce back in life. It took people who would commit to spending money, time, and effort to make this happen. For the next twelve weeks, the church could engage the nameless people we read in the papers. They were no longer strangers – some even became brothers and sisters in the faith. They had names, dreams, aspirations, and, most importantly, hope.
“The most crucial battle for the Kingdom is won every time a human being repents, believes, and submits to the Lordship of the Messiah, becoming a new center for the reordering of life on earth as it is in heaven.” – Richard Lovelace
Seeing the poor in our city, a stone’s throw away from our church, also made us realize that there are so many problems, but we had to make our world smaller. We had to ask – where is the world God has placed us? The Lord gave us a strategy to start where we are – in our city. As much as we want to change the world – we need to begin where God planted us. Many of our young people are deprived of education in the Philippines – a God-given right they have.
Because of this, we established a work to fund the scholars in our city. The stats are overwhelming, yet we know we can make a dent in the students’ and their families lives when we can all come together and help specific individuals. They are no longer lumped and named as kids who can’t go to school – they are now scholars funded by generous Christians in our city. Life will never be the same again for Maricar, Bry, Shy, Joy, Mary, Aye, Abi, France, and Dianne.
God’s gracious plan of redemption for his people is the model for what he will one day accomplish on earth by restoring the original purpose of his created order. So the church not only represents the first taste of this transformation to the world – simply by our saved presence and the changes God is continually bringing about in our lives – but he is also putting us to work repairing what is broken in the people and the environment around us. We are on his renovation crew. – Ed Stetzer
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Don’t be afraid. Put a name on the cause you are fighting for.
PS: We received a text this week from the chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection in our city where the church donated a brand new ambulance to replace a seventeen-year-old ambulance. As of to date, the ambulance has served 1067 patients!