Many years ago, while I was deeply involved in cultural transformation in the Government Mountain of Culture, a friend challenged me, asserting, “you know, you’re working against the will of God.”
Taken aback, I could only respond, “how so?”
“Because the Bible prophesies that things are going to get worse and worse and worse, and then Jesus will return. You trying to make things better means you’re working against what has been prophesied will happen.”
My purpose here is not to venture into an end-times discussion, but rather to challenge the premise of this friend’s notion with Jesus’ command, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Hebrew word “shalom” is typically translated “peace.” But its meaning, its implications, are far, far greater than this. “Shalom” is a state of well-being, a state of flourishing. It’s a state of wholeness and completeness.
To love our neighbor is to act in ways that, whether small or great, help restore the state of “shalom” to that person. Of course we understand that the pathway to fully living in “shalom” is through the cross of Christ and the good news of forgiveness, redemption and salvation. But that doesn’t mean we condition the reach of our lovingkindness only to those who are likely to surrender to Christ, nor turn our backs on those who we assume aren’t likely to do so. Jesus didn’t do that.
In other words, we are commanded to love our neighbor regardless of the outcome, regardless of whether our neighbor comes to a saving faith in Christ or not.
This “no strings attached” love is disruptive – there are times we have to change our plans or our course of action to love another.
And it’s culturally transformative. If my choices and actions…
- Help elect a servant-leader to Congress (Government/Military)
- change the way Hollywood promotes sexuality (Arts and Entertainment)
- inject truth into the reporting of news (Media)
- cultivate integrity in the world of business (Business)
- help a married couple avoid the devastation of divorce (Family)
- produce a better education for a group of young people (Education)
- help a pastor through a crippling struggle (Religion)
…then I’ve loved my neighbors by impacting the Seven Mountains of Culture.
We are prone in our society to exalt the spectacular, even the spectacularly evil. And you and I may well have opportunities to participate in and accelerate spectacular acts that disproportionately restore “shalom” to our culture. I’ve known such opportunities, and I’ve rejoiced in the privilege of being part of such impact. I know those in Pinnacle Forum who have as well, and given the degree of influence God has accorded our leaders in Pinnacle Forum, I expect more and more of this kind of impact in the years to come.
But let’s not forget or overlook how the benefit we receive from our Forum experience – the encouragement and equipping to swim against the tide of selfishness, self-involvement and self-delusion – will translate into less obvious but no less important actions to restore a state of “shalom” to those around us.
In some cases we may see those we influence be delivered from the darkness and into the light. In many other cases, we won’t.
Ultimately, “cultural transformation” is about changing the world around us so that those who are touched by our actions experience a little more “shalom” than they experienced yesterday. In big ways and small, organic and organized, we answer two questions simultaneously: “Why care?” and “Why cultural transformation?” with the answer, “because we are commanded to love our neighbor.”
John Wesley, one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time, put it this way:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
In Pinnacle Forum we stress the unleashing of leadership, the impact of relationships, the discovery of our callings, purposes and passions, and the need to be intentional and strategic in taking action. This is living out the Four “E” Strategy. The more and better we do this, the more and better we will live like Wesley exhorted us to live.