The Church as a World Changing Agent

There are many who see the Church as an agent for social change. It is an organization that is called to impact the world and some believe that by changing policy or the law of the land is a very appropriate role of the Church.

The intermingling of Church and State is an interesting line. Some say that it is not okay to have the symbols of the State (such as the flag) in the sanctuary. While others are okay with it. Some argue that symbols of the state are okay in the worship setting, but find it inappropriate for the Church to “talk politics” in worship. There is not one side that has a monopoly on being inconsistent in the separation of Church and State. It is a human thing. If you believe something then you will justify all the means to achieve the desired end. Even do something that you would not allow those who disagree with you to do.

Christians do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, but humans do.

In all our efforts to change the world “out there” it has become clear to me that a dwindling number of people join in the Spirit’s work to change the world “in here”. That is, we see the problems in the world beyond us and are blind to the problems within us.

The Church is an agent for change, but the change the Church is most equipped to address is the change within. As it is said by Thomas Merton in the book The Wisdom of the Desert:

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.”

The Church is an agent for great change. Perhaps the greatest change is the change of heart that Christ works in us. The change of action that repentance calls us to. The change of reaction that forgiveness gives us.

Few disagree that we should “be the change we wish to see in the world.” The question is what world are we talking about? Too often we only think of the world out there and ignore the world within.