I’ve seen this same question coming from two different directions recently. To be honest this is always the big question for me, I am never satisfied with compromise, and always too aware of the compromises I make every day.
The first reminder I had was this article on treehugger by Alan Fortescue of Earthwatch, who was stung in to consideration of his life, by the line in All Along The Watchtower – ‘let us stop talking falsely now, the hour is getting late’.
Fortescue touches a real issue, there is still a lot of talk about action for environmental causes, but still not much ground level action. My personal fear is that if/when Green issues lose their fashionable status, so much of this will fade away, people will lose interest without ever having made a real positive impact. Depressing. I am also challenged about the places in my own life where I am making a heavily negative impact, I think that is mainly my car, something we’ve talked about a good deal, but never managed to deal with. We really dont think we can manage without this car, but surely we could… it would take a big leap of faith to get rid of it.
The second place where I found this challenge was in a post by Pete Rollins, who constantly provokes and challenges with inicisive and thoughtful prose. The post was an excerpt from his forthcoming book ‘The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales’.
In this case Rollins tells a parable about a man in a future dystopia, accused of following Christ (a subversive and illegal activity). Evidence against him includes his religious artworks, well thumbed Bible, worship CD’s, surveilance evidence of his having attended church, spoken at religious events etc. As the man trembles in the courtroom, he is astounded to hear the judge say ‘not guilty’…
“The court is indifferent toward your Bible reading and church attendance; it has no concern for worship with words and a pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of love. We have no interest in such armchair artists who spend their time creating images of a better world. We exist only for those who would lay down that brush, and their life, in a Christ-like endeavor to create it. So, until you live as Christ and his followers, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then my friend, you are no enemy of ours.”
We are presented with a challenge to go beyond fine words, even fine actions, and move into a way of life so far removed from compromise that it really does become subversive, challenging to the status quo, a dangerous way of living. How much must my life change before I become that person?
Reading the Celtic Daily Prayer book this morning I read through the story of Brendan again, and it’s challenge to risky living. God help me to truly be a risk taker, to be someone who will ‘be the change I want to see’.
(That last quote comes from Ghandi, who also said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”)