When I was young, under 13, we would go to my grandparents house nearly every Saturday throughout the summer months. These times, with my family both close and distant relatives, deeply formed my view on family and the importance of time spent together. From the vantage point of today, I see a myriad of events, situations and even emotions, if I am being completely honest, each of those moments in their own way helped shape who I, my cousins, our parents and even grandparents would become.
I met my wife not too long after my 20th birthday, although she was not my wife yet, we just met. Like those summer days from my childhood, this would too become one of those moments that deeply formed me. As my high school career was coming to a close, I discovered EDM or Electronic Dance Music. In the mid to late 90's the scene in MD, DC and VA was what is now seen as the golden era of the club scene, not just locally where I grew up but across the USA. The movement was relatively still underground, not completely mainstream, by mainstream I mean, widely known, cross generationally and lots of radio play. In one of these clubs is where I met the woman who would become my wife.
The discovery of this community, felt at the time and still does to this day, like home. People who were lost, found a home. People who were looking for love, acceptance and a place where they felt they belonged, found that place. I will always have a deep sense of belonging because of the community that was formed around loud music, lights and hope that everyone would be accepted for who they were.
I have grown up since then, well somewhat grown up; but the principles, life lessons, some of the friendships and musical taste have not changed. The night I was contemplating what to write for this blog post, I kept thinking of hope and the statement 'Hope for what'? I think this stems from some current events, culturally, politically, religiously and personally. From the time I was legally allowed to vote in this country, I chose to abstain. I always saw that whoever was running for office at whatever level, locally, state or federal, they were someone I couldn't trust. I always saw politics as a bunch of unnecessary arguments that cause pain, strife and broken relationships. I didn't see it at the time, but the subjectivity of politics to the individual will almost always cause disagreements. I registered to vote, when I was 31, something I still regret.
Throughout my 20's, I like a lot of us saw this cultural shift taking place. I was not aware at the time, I'm sure some were, that this shift was something that was going to change a lot of things. You could see this shift in music, economics, media and the church. There is a long list of other things that we could name here as well. Watching this take place from my own limited perspective and bubble did not fill me with very much hope for the future.
I cannot shake this image from my head. Let's see if I can articulate this. I keep seeing this image of the church/body of Christ trying to fix the values, ideals and beliefs on the world around them. Almost like one house being the church trying to take its structure and place over the world in a way to apply these values, ideals and beliefs. One house on top of the other. What a strange thing to see in your head, but an even stranger thing to witness.
The image I keep seeing stems from the cultural shift that has been slowing taking place. This is where hope has begun to be lost. Where, some not all, have sacrificed themselves on the altar of society and culture and lost the mission of the church. That mission being a place where the world comes to be transformed into Christ, not back into themselves. The culture's influence on the church seems greater than ever before. I am not a world or church historian, but a quick glance at the past or a trip down memory lane from history and religion class reveals the truth in this statement.
Hope for what? What can we have hope in? Hope will always be found in the transformative power of Jesus and Him alone. Our hope is in this transformation. Our hope is not in the transformation into the world. That would mean that we are being transformed into the thoughts, opinions and ideals for every person who has ever and will ever live. My hope has changed over time. I once had hope in the community of EDM that so lovingly accepted me. But just like the ideals and visions of others, it has changed. It does look the same as it once did. My hope is also not in the politics, economics and values of any current structure that is in place. The basis for hope has to be found in Christ. Not for my sake, but for the sake of this world.