Stanley Hauerwas is famous for saying that “It’s the church’s job to help the world understand that it is the world.”[If this it the first time you’ve heard this slogan, you may need to pause a bit and reflect on what it might mean.]
If by “world” he means “the organization of society in rebellion to Christ’s Lordship,” then he’s certainly right.
But I would take this dictum a step further. “It’s the church’s job to help the world understand that it is not the only or final world.”
This revised dictum also awakens the world to an awareness that it is in fact a world that stands in rebellion to Christ. But it also alerts the world to the reality that its reign is passing away and that the rein of Christ has already begun to replace it.
This disabuses the world of the notion that it is ultimate and that it only needs to keep progressing until it achieves utopia. More importantly, however, it disabuses the church of the notion that our job is mostly to help the fading world realize its full potential.
Rather, we are the new world with which God has begun to replace the old world. Such global supersession–even if nonviolent–cannot help but place us at odds with the lame duck world that is passing away.
God help us both.