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There was a man who bought a car in 1953. He loved that car and couldn't imagine ever having to part with it. He took a great deal of care over it, and could often be seen in his driveway cleaning, polishing and repairing. But try as he might to preserve that car from time and the elements, sure enough things started to go wrong. The engine broke and he replaced it. The fuel injector developed a hole and he patched it up. By the end of the century, things had gotten so bad that the car would no longer start, yet he continued to clean and polish it meticulously week after week.
His neighbors thought he was crazy. "Why don't you just get yourself a new car," they would ask. They soon left off asking when he replied – with the kind of stare that could kill a man at twenty paces – "Nothing wrong with her, that's why. A bit of fixing up here and there, then she'll be as good as new."
And so he continues to this day to clean and polish his car, and do the odd bit of mending. The doors are hanging by their hinges, the roof leaks and the wheels have all fallen off, but he remains convinced that everything is essentially well.
Let me introduce this man to you. He is a conservative and he is a lot like many conservative Christians. Nothing wrong with conserving things when they can actually be conserved, of course, but we are at that point in time where we need to ask ourselves, "If I am a conservative, what exactly is it that I'm conserving?"
What is there about the current culture is there that is worth conserving? The current political system? If you like two identikit parties who vie with each other to cajole the people into accepting bigger government after each election, then maybe so.
The economy? If you just want to tinker around the edges of a $16 trillion debt to get it reduced to a more conservative sum - say $15 trillion - then maybe.
Or how about marriage? Well if you think that things were just fine before someone came up with the suggestion that two men who “love each other very much” could actually call each other husband and husband, then again maybe so.
What is there left to conserve? Not much really. Not to worry, though. Our God specializes in such situations. I realize it might come as a bit of a shock to many conservative Christians, but God is not actually a conservative. He is a progressive. But before you all get red in the face and the veins in your temples start to throb as you expect me to start talking about social justice and egalitarianism, let me quickly add that He is not that type of progressive, the one we're all used to. He is a true progressive. The true progressive. What do I mean by that? Well firstly let me point out what the other type of "progressive" is like.
Progressivism is the philosophical position which favors bringing about political and social reform through a series of gradual changes. It is ordinarily associated with the anti-Christian left and usually comes at us replete with words and phrases like "equality" and "fairer society." Yet despite the high sounding rhetoric, somehow it always seems to involve puffed up government, the slaughter of the unborn, family breakdown, a coarser and less caring society, a dumber culture, an often aimless and nihilistic youth and an economy whose principal feature is debt.
Societies claiming to be progressive can be easily judged according to their claim: are they actually progressive? Or to put it another way, if they are progressive, what is it they are actually progressing toward? Well if the total state, baby carnage, family destruction and the like are your thing, then I guess that we are making good progress in that direction. Then again, if you think that these things bear all the hallmarks of Canaanite paganism, then the word “progress” might not be the one that springs readily to mind. Regress perhaps, but not progress. And so we react against all this, and we do so under the banner of Christian conservatism.
But there is another type of progressive and he is called God. His Word progresses from a garden to a garden-city. His history progresses from the first Adam to the last Adam. He makes all things new. He kills and makes alive. He sanctifies. He doesn’t just change our hearts once for all and then leave us in that condition. He changes our hearts and renews our minds daily.
God himself is unchanging, but his creation is in constant flux. He isn’t interested in a little bit of preservation here and there. He is interested in reforming the world. He is not the God of stasis - of attempting to preserve the status quo - he is the God of resurrection and having raised his Son from the dead, he is in the business of resurrecting a dead world full of dead people and reconciling all things to himself.
We need to stop thinking like conservatives, and more like God the progressive. We need to stop trying to pretend that a little bit of polishing and a little bit of tweaking will solve things. We have been polishing our clapped out old banger for years, trying to turn the clock back to how things were a little while ago, and what have we achieved? Nothing at all, except allowed the false progressives to turn the clock back several thousand years until they reached Canaan.
Christians ought to be the true progressives – not just trying to conserve a little bit here and there, nor “progressing” back to Canaan, but progressing towards building the majestic Kingdom of God. It’s time to change our thinking. Time we got ourselves a new car. Time to call upon God the true progressive and ask him to radically change our hearts and our thinking from our dead conservatism to a resurrected and glorious Christian progressivism.
Conservatism is dead…Long live progressivism.