You can cause transformation to occur. Here is a more specific list of steps to effectively produce lasting change.
[Have a Vision] The first component of such a response is a vision and the first part of this vision is recognizing and renouncing the idols we serve—specifically the consumption idol. We must begin examining the systems and structures in our lives and in our world and ask: Is there anything better?
The second area in creating a vision is recognizing multidimensionality. “The problem with idolatry is that it elevates certain aspects of life at the expense of others. Consequently, the second condition for cultural renewal is that these other dimensions of life regain their proper role,” wrote Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton, authors of The Transforming Vision. Right now more emphasis is placed on certain issues and less emphasis is placed on consumerism and environmental degradation. If we are to create a vision, we must realize that it will consist of many dimensions.
We need to also recognize that God’s norms are the third part required to create a vision. The word ‘norm’ means an authoritative standard. Most of the time people conform to their cultural norms. For example, Americans consider running water and electricity a norm, but in other parts of the world this is not the norm. A Christian vision must be comprised of God’s norms which in a nutshell is to love all people and all creation for all times.
All of this is great, but if you or I were to create a vision by ourselves, what good would that do? Powerlessness begins to overcome vision if we feel lonely in our desire to transform the world in light of God’s norms. This means instead of looking at life as an individual walk, we must begin to look at our life as part of the life of the whole Christian community. Questions like the following: what can we, as a body, do about the problems in the world, or what steps must be taken to change the neighborhood we live in from one that produces a lot of waste to one that does not, become invaluable. The answers to such questions become our plan of action.
[Take Action] Many times I dare not to dream about what could be because if I did dream, I would feel obligated to actually do something about those dreams, visions and thoughts. This is exactly the point. Dreaming leads to action. There are countless examples of people taking up the fight for causes they believed in during history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not only dreamed about an America that was free for all races, but he participated and organized several marches, sit-ins and rallies. There were Germans who did not believe in concentration camps, so they hid Jews inside their homes and the pilgrims did not want to live under religious control or monarchy, so they left for America. Thus, if Christians are to make an impact, action must follow dreams.
Let’s look at the aforementioned question: What steps must be taken to change the neighborhood we live in from one that produces a lot of waste to one that does not? The answers to this question could be: a neighborhood recycling program and teaching neighbors how to make compost piles. This plan seems easy enough on paper, but taking action means informing the whole neighborhood of our plan, talking to the garbage collectors about getting separate bins for recycling, talking to the city to make sure these bins were approved, learning about compost piles and setting up times to talk to neighbors about how to set up their compost piles. I am sure I have not even scratched the surface. The point is that taking action must be a conscious decision and one you are willing to commit to, otherwise it will probably stay a dream.
[Successfully Lead] Taking action is a wonderful second step, yet perseverance, a servant-like attitude and discipline are needed to complete the package. Each component is needed to effectively create change. Opposition and hardships will inevitably arise once you start to take action. These could come in the form of people who disagree with you, financial burdens or doubt. A wonderful example of this comes from Paul in the New Testament. Paul faced unimaginable resistance in the forms of beatings, stoning, imprisonment, slander and loneliness. In 2 Timothy Paul writes, “Everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me.” Yet at the end of his life he wrote these famous words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” It is our job to continue in his footsteps and persevere in fighting the good fight for the Lord.
For Christians this commitment to leading a community in the direction of God’s norms must be an act of service. Leading becomes service because Christian leadership is comprised of loving God, others and His creation “In the Kingdom of God service is not a stepping-stone to nobility: it is nobility, the only kind of nobility that is recognized,” stated Stott. In other words, our reason for serving must not be so that we receive honor or so we are recognized as a leader, but we serve simply because God commanded it. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10: 42-45).
The last step is being disciplined— as in self-discipline and in the discipline of waiting on God. God promises that if we are disciplined, he will reward us. But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40: 31).
And so I ask you: are you living a sustainable lifestyle? If not, what are you going to do about it?
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