The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The bandwagon to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse in South Carolina has filled up. I also understand that Wal-Mart is going to discontinue selling items that have the flag on them. Frankly, I can’t believe Wal-Mart still sold such items, that in itself seems unfathomable to me in this day and age.
While I am glad these things are happening, I am troubled that it’s 2015 and they are only happening now. I am really troubled that it took the deaths of 9 innocent people to be the catalyst for this type of change. It seems that real social change, if and when it comes, only happens in a reactive manner. We are only moved to change when heinous acts force us to do so. Even then, the power of voice calling for change seems to get softer and softer with time, until it is barely a whisper. We only need to look around our the issue of gun violence. We talk about having some honest conversation around it, but never actually get around to it as our collective memory fades after tragedy.
I keep reminding myself that Gospel calls us to move forward. The life that is back there is back there, not a place that we return.The life God desires for us is in front of us, not behind us. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia words that many know and quote today, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” These were bold, forward thinking words when written many years ago. Most of what we treasure about faith was introduced in a bold, courageous manner while upsetting the status quo of the time. Most of what we consider to be biblical is meant to move us forward, not back. Most of what we appreciate about our faith is meant to not only move us forward, but set the pace. The church is called to be a thermostat and not a thermometer. When we are at our best as church, we are a thermostat.
I must admit, I have felt God pushing me forward over the last few days. I often experience God this way and sometimes I pay attention, but more often than not, I don’t. It’s so easy and so comfortable to ignore God’s nudges. This one is too important to ignore. The kingdom of God will not come through our reactive nature, but rather through a proactive bold spirit. Imagine what we can do together if we in the church are leading the way, not lagging behind. Let’s not wait for the bandwagon to fill, let’s be the people who drive the train out of the station.
Grace and peace,