This theme of brokenness runs strong in Christian culture today. “The world is broken and needs Jesus” is something we hear a lot. “Satan Hunts Among the Hurting” is a recent article title. “The church is a field hospital” is a popular statement. “Redeeming culture” is a modern call to action. Constant reminders of how even Christians are sinfully lacking seems to be a pious act.
Without a doubt, the overarching theme of the Bible is the opportunity humanity had to walk with the divine, its loss of that opportunity, and then the reconciliation of man back to God through Jesus’ sacrifice. But, in many ways, modern Christianity stops short of the full story, with devastating results.
Not that we haven’t noticed those results. There’s no shortage of church leaders and thinkers wrestling with the place of the church in culture, and with culture. Frustration has been mounting over the growing gap between society and the ability of the church to provide value to it. Could there be a connection between the “brokenness” worldview of our current theology, and our relevance? The answer lies in the simple formula for what makes people and organizations relevant.
Relevance = Creativity x Innovation.
Broken down simply, creativity operates in the space of what doesn’t currently exist. It is the forming of something new. Innovation spurs the creative act with the belief that we can do better than what our current state suggests. Organizations and people who invest in the ability to design a future that doesn’t exist yet have always been, and always will be, relevant.
A “brokenness” worldview is the antidote to that formula – it focuses our attention only on what exists now, constantly striving to maintain and repair things somebody else created but that doesn’t line up with our view of how the world should appear or how people should act. When the church feels 20 years behind culture, this is why. While we often inherently view people and communities as broken and incomplete, the rest of culture is investing in that same human potential to create the future. As a result, the church is relegated to being merely a bandaid for the past and present, not a relevant partner in designing the future.
If we left this here as only a social commentary, it would be incomplete. As it turns out, the author of Hebrews presents a more complete worldview that validates a better way forward. Here’s the 6-part theology that Hebrews proposes should define our thinking and lifestyle as Christians.
- Jesus is the ultimate solution to human sin, offering a “new way” – His sacrifice doesn’t have to be repeated. It is once and for all so humanity can again walk with the divine, viewed as perfect and holy. (Hebrews 10:1-18)
- Because of this “new way,” we can live boldly in confidence, faith, and a clean conscience. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
- We are now a group of people called to innovation and creativity, figuring out how to serve our neighbor and design big and beautiful solutions. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Side note: it’s always going to be easy to revert back to the way we used to be; but that isn’t our legacy! (Hebrews 10:26-39)
- This is our legacy: we are the latest generation of a community who, throughout time, has seen and acted on what they couldn’t see, to be a part of a future they were convinced could and would exist. (Hebrews 11)
- Live that legacy – go boldly forward and throw away excuses. Look up, and out. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Here are three thoughts for how we as individuals and faith communities can be better participants in the Relevance Formula.
Future-Focused: our legacy is defined by our heritage: boldly going into the unknown. A past-and-present mindset fails to fully live up to this tradition.
Individually-Inspired: we are called to do better than brokenness, as coworkers with Christ. Realization of our human frailty must be paired with a recognition that reconciliation and redemption is always for a beautiful purpose, pushing us towards bold change agency and confidence. And this view of ourselves as Christ-followers must extend to the people and communities we want to connect to Christ. We need to better figure out how to tap in to the intersection of God-given human potential and God-designed divine purpose.
Creatively-Centered: we as faith communities are purposed to not only exist in the margins and care for the marginalized, but also be an active participant in building, designing, and creating beautiful things that don’t yet exist. It should never be either/or, but both/and.
What do you think? Comment below and share to grow the conversation!