The Church and a cultural void (Ethics 3)

The rock star Bono once said, “I have observed a person planting a kind of landmine that years later they will accidently tread on and blow their lives to pieces. You watch people doing it, willfully getting involved in actions they will pay a very heavy price for later.”
Why do we sometimes plant the seeds of our own destruction?
Bonhoeffer called it the void – a measureless existence that does not rely on past or future. The void swallows everything but the present moment. Bonhoeffer said, “With loss of past and future, life fluctuates between the most bestial enjoyment of the moment and an adventurous game of chance.”
This is where we find ourselves as society because we have nothing else to plant a foundation on as a society. Yes, Bonhoeffer said that ethics must be founded in devotion to Christ, but the world does not accept Him. So, they only know a void in their life, a void that is all consuming: “The void engulfs life, history, family, nation, language, faith. The list can be prolonged indefinitely, for the void spares nothing.”
And meanwhile, where is the church to speak a different word, a word of a different kingdom with a different King? The church, which should be speaking a different word to the world, fails to act to intercede for the world. Bonhoeffer says the church “has failed to speak the right word in the right way at the right time.” When the church should be speaking truth, it far too often has spoken the language of accommodation to the world: “The church confesses that she has desired security, peace and quiet, possessions and honor, to which she had no right, and that in this way she has not bridled the desires of men but has stimulated them further.”
Despite Bonhoeffers tough words, he still holds out hope for society, but only if the church is transformed: “The renewal of the western world lies solely in the divine renewal of the church, which leads her to the fellowship of the risen and living Jesus Christ.” The church must lead the way by confessing its failures and seeking to correct them.


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