Three years ago, the Lord took me on a journey to discover the impact of reformation, both within the Church and within the culture. Like others interested in the subject, I began to study, write and speak about the different spheres of cultural influence and what it would be like to have a group of Spirit-led believers working together to bring about a righteous cultural transformation within each of those spheres. The more I studied the subject, the more I came to realize two things would transpire in the process of our engagement with the subject of reformation.
First, our current understanding of eschatology (the study of the end of time) would be challenged. Many of us grew up with an ominous outlook at what we called the “end times.” We were taught a dark culmination of time was coming. We did not realize another option was even possible. We thought God’s judgment was a form of punishment instead of something good to anticipate. The judgment of God could be anticipated because it made the wrong things in this world right. Under the old mindset, we saw the Earth reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes and its unrepentant inhabitants brought to their knees by an angry God while the Church flew up and away into glory leaving the decaying world behind. I have come to see that God had something else in mind.
As reformation gains more traction and as each sphere of culture is being transformed, we will see the world is actually getting better in both the quality of life and the integrity of its institutions, not worse. Social statistics, not just the statistics of those within religious institutions, are now revealing that reality. Many followers of Jesus Christ are no longer waiting to be ejected from the challenges of this world. They are beginning to work in concert with God’s Spirit to form Kingdom alliances to make this world a better place. Jesus would never have instructed His disciples to pray, “on Earth as it is in Heaven” if that were not a possibility.
Second, the structure of the Church – its wineskin – will change. No longer will believers be content to sit Sunday after Sunday in a worship gathering to engage yet another Monday morning without being able to bring significant change to the brokenness they see in the world. Many have left that singular expression of the Church but they still retain their faith. They have not left the Church. They have left the narrow expression of the Church we presented to them that, in its current form, cannot fulfill the Great Commission because it is not actively and purposefully discipling nations and the institutions of those nations. These people are looking for and desiring to be engaged in a culture-altering move of God’s Spirit that will transform the world in invisible and measurable ways.
We are in the middle of a tremendous alteration of the form and thinking of the Church. Like a garment that needs to be altered to fit a changing human body, so it is with the Church. Our shape must change if we are going to fit into the garment of our mission. Our mind is being renewed. God is bringing us back to His original intent that is life, not death in any form, even the death images of our cherished but misguided views of what is to come at the end of the age.