Jesus said that the kingdoms of this world will pass away. Plenty already have. The Egyptians. The Greeks. The Romans. The Soviets. The Americans? A quick survey of human history will tell you that earthly systems have a way of crumbling.
But there are those who reject such inevitability and believe that human systems (and humanity) can be perfected — that with the right knowledge, the right motivations, the right textbooks, the right policies, and the right leaders, evil can be eradicated. For them, the failures of history are failures of planning, not failures of people. “We are all inherently good,” they will say. “Evil, in all of its forms, must simply be prevented.” And thus, if there is no natural inclination to evil, certainly we can avoid it with the right foresight. All we need to do is come up with the right plan.
But for those of us who believe in the Fall of Man and sole redemption through the cross, Jesus’ words are an obvious truth and humanity’s question becomes one not of perfecting human societies (an impossibility on this earth), but of maximizing human potential. In this worldview, life is not about reaching a well-planned utopia of absolute security, but about pursuing a life of choice and risk that yields absolute liberty. Unlike the utopian’s dream, this pursuit is defined by engaging the risk, not avoiding it. It is defined by stepping out in faith, by beating the earthly odds, and even by paying the consequences. In this pursuit, responsibility and accountability are the reward, not just some means to a static end.
We often find ourselves caught somewhere in between.
We want to step out and trust in God, but we don’t want the vulnerability that comes with it. We want to let go of our earthly scheming and latch on to God’s vision, but when push comes to shove we dilute it down to something that’s comfortable or understandable. Even when it comes to the “big” things God has called us to — saving the Lost, healing the sick, feeding the poor — we are ready and willing to heed the call but prone to forget or abandon the mission.
Yet wherever we stand, we can see evil all around us. Sometimes it angers us, often it unsettles us, and almost always it effects us. So, understandably, we want to come up with a solution and we want to institutionalize it. We want to pull together as a community and come up with a plan. But when it comes to the evil itself on a personal level, we don’t want to deal with it. We want to ignore it, excuse it, or even rationalize it. We want to blame the world (or the “system”) when in reality we are at the very heart of it. We as individuals compose the core of our communities. We as individuals determine the outcomes of our cultures.
Rather than press toward the heavenly solution (i.e. the Cross), we press toward earthly solutions (i.e. human systems) and try to impose them on others in hopes that we might eradicate the “root causes” of evil and do away with pain and suffering altogether.
But Jesus approached things differently. Rather than looking at the root causes of evil, He saw evil in its earthly context and offered a non-earthly solution. Rather than focusing on eradicating sin in the here and now, He offered an example — an alternative. He didn’t outlaw sin and mandate pure living. He gave us a choice. He offered Himself as a bloody and broken sacrifice and simply said, “Your move.”
Why would He do that?
Free will requires choices, and with those choices come consequences. Relationship with God is not a one-stop, altar-call sort of thing. It is a challenging pursuit that requires a lifestyle of choosing God. It is a struggle in which success is far from automatic. It’s not easy to give up everything you have for the Gospel. It’s not easy to lay down your life for a friend. It’s not easy to love your enemies. But in the end, such self-sacrifice has a reward, and such a reward would be meaningless without free will. It would be all for nothing without the choice, the struggle, the risk, and the relationship.
This is the essence of Radical Individualism. It isn’t that earthly systems cannot accomplish good, and it isn’t that we should crawl into a hole and passively watch as evil runs rampant destroying people. Radical Individualism is simply about realizing that the center of human existence is about our individual relationships with God, and about keeping those relationships first in our lives. Only when we as individuals learn to follow God’s unconventional wisdom will we know how to use the tools of this world for His glory. Only then will joining together in community be a true and worthwhile endeavor.
The Remnant Culture, therefore, is the culture that achieves this sort of success. It is a True Community of individuals in which each is pursuing relationship with God to the fullest. It is not a culture defined by geography or ethnicity or tradition or political identity, but by the maximization of individual potential through heavenly eyes.
So, as earthly beings, what is the right way to pursue His will through earthly channels? If earthly systems are corrupt and will eventually die off, how do we best use them to serve God in the here and now? Is there a right way? Is there a right policy? Is there some human system that God would prefer over another, or is salvation simply up to us as individuals? If Jesus said His kingdom is “not of this world” and that “heaven and earth will pass away,” why should we even care about earthly systems in the first place, and how can we hope to achieve God’s will through them? If man is both the problem and the solution, how are we to build God’s kingdom on earth without losing sight of our eternal Kingdom in Heaven?
RemnantCulture.com was birthed from these questions. When it comes to the answers, I have my own hypothesis and I assume you have yours. But whatever your viewpoint is on these issues, I sincerely hope you’ll join me in pursuing the answers.