I just finished reading Brian McLaren's soon to be released book; Everything Must Change. Brian is an ambitious dreamer. I don't say that in a derogatory way at all. We need dreamers today that can help us awaken from our deep sleep. Some would say a nightmare and I wouldn't disagree with them. Brian McLaren is one of those voices that is pointing to a dream....a way of living that might help us see the change that would make way for a better world for us all. His approach is at least two fold. Shock us with reality in hopes of awakening us and then point us to Jesus so as to find the way of hope forward . Will Brian's reason for hope put forth in this book accomplish that? I don't know. But at least he has the courage to lay it on the line. And Brian, along with many others that have gone before us seems very aware of the struggle and the push back the status quo system will put forth to keep things as they are. It's the history of alienated humanity. I'm also left wondering if organized Christianity can break out of the status quo?
I really appreciate and can speak personally to at least one of the themes in this book. A change in the stories that shape us. That awakening in my life has changed everything and is continuing to change even more. As Christians living in America, or any other nation for that matter, being shaped by the script/story that is the way of life in our nation, it just seems we would want to test that script/story against the story of Jesus and his kingdom? Does it fit with what he said or does it run counter-productive to it? Brian presents these two competing stories in a very clear way. The story of the world system of domination, violence and control and the story of God's redemptive plan through the Good News of his kingdom.
My one criticism of the book, and I would love to hear Brian's thoughts on this, is it seems to me he believes this story of God's redemptive plan for mankind might be embraced by enough people that the destructive world system or as he calls it, the suicide machine (great name by the way) could be turned around. I want to believe Brian is right. But these things cannot be seen by the natural eye in a way that will set in motion justice and equity and hope. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) It is only in those who's eyes have been opened to the things of the Spirit by the Spirit of God that can actually see the way of unconditional love, by the way of grace and mercy, through acts of sacrificial service. Without that transformation, the people kicking against one injustice will just create another injustice somewhere else, against someone else. It will just be pushed somewhere else and the injustice will be manifested once again. Haven't many of the social activist movements throughout history proven that?
But with that being said, I do not believe we are forever trapped being dragged along by the suicidal world system. Jesus' message of the kingdom of heaven is the alternative framing story Brian McLaren points to in Everything Must Change, as being The Way and The truth and the only hope for The Life Jesus came to make possible for us all. That alternative story can over turn the nasty effects in our lives and the lives of others that has been caused by the world's covert curriculum and spreads out in all directions and destroys or at least harms everything in it's path. Along with the unmasking of this covert curriculum, Brian shares many inspiring stories of people who are making a difference in their world, doing their part as God leads them to reach out and make a difference in a life....a neighborhood....a workplace...a city...a remote village...a nation and even the global community.
I highly recommend this book because the message of the kingdom of heaven and the life made possible through Jesus and his sacrifice, is the only way out of this nightmare the people of this world are suffering under, being controlled, manipulated and oppressed by the world system. Brian does a great job describing it.