Saving All People

“The bigger the change we hope for, the longer we must be willing to invest, work for, and wait for it.” (Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling)

My thoughts on the first couple of chapters of this excellent book.

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I’ve been reading it with one of the other women in my community group, who is a full-time culture maker herself. Part of me hoped that this book would be a magical how-to, an actually functional How to Win Friends and Influence People, except influencing everyone and winning the world.

But I’ve realized, as the opening quotation notes, that’s just not how it works. Revolutions and revivals sometimes do bring about a lot of change, but even they are built on decades of decidedly less sexy discipline, relationships, and thoughtful labor.

This is something Crouch especially hits on at the end of Chapter 3, when he moves from what culture is to how we actually change it–he says changing culture requires making culture, and making culture effectively in turn requires knowing the cultural medium you work in really really well. 10,000 hours or no, he believes “Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity.”

This is both humbling and inspiring; humbling as I consider the intricate web of relationships and the tangled mass of collective time and effort it takes for good ideas to spread.

Inspiring because as I read through pages and pages of Lancet articles and WHO reports about oral health metrics and Direct Assistance for Health: Disability-Adjusted Life Year ratios and the other school stuff I actually have to complete (the above two topics are for a global oral health elective I’m taking), at least I know this is something I need to do.

I need to become fluent in the puddles, ponds, lakes, and even seas and oceans that I want to make a splash in. It’s kind of a grind at times, but it’s also that super inspiring part of Legally Blonde or Monsters University or whatever the movie in which the protagonist(s) are getting excellent to the tune of inspiring, upbeat music.

I’m reading through 1 Timothy right now, and at one point, Paul says this to the young Timothy, who’s pastoring a major urban church:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God,who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:9-10)

No worries– I’m not converting to universalism here– just recognizing that in our endeavors to work long and hard for enduring change in the interlocking and overlapping cultures we inhabit, we are hoping in and joining the work of a God who has done this for millenia before us, and will keep working long after we are gone. Even if not all people experience God as savior in spiritual and eternal terms, all people will get to experience him–and hopefully, us his church–as savior through the solace of of everything from compelling hip-hop lyrics to well-executed dental treatment.

So while I used to pin my hopes on revival when I was younger and more dependent on highs and excitements to push me through each day, now I hope to be faithful as a person and as a church, and I enjoy that my everyday labor is infused with God’s greater purposes to save his people and his world.

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