I was listening to NPR with my wife Kim yesterday morning as usual. We were listening to a series about Nigeria and how this oil and natural gas rich nation was dealing with the intersection of money, power, and corruption. This particular installment highlighted the possible bribery by a U.S. natural gas company (which is a subsidiary of Halliburton) of Nigerian officials so that it would “win” a bid over several other competitors to develop a natural gas plant in Nigeria. It was clear that this compay was more focused obviously on its own ability to turn a profit, not to improve the daily lives of Nigerians.
Now stay with me while I make this leap, it dawned on me that stories like this is what has Al Qaeda in such a tizzy. Don’t get me wrong, Al Qaeda is still the bad guy. Blowing up innocent people around the world is not the way to confront corruption. It certainly is not Jesus’ way (whom they hold up to be a prophet). But the bottom line is that the “world system” that the Apostle John told us not to love in his first epistle is currently controlled by western democracies, and of course, our good ol’ U.S.A. is the big dog of western demcracies. So we basically are the world system. Think about it. We have world’s most powerful military. We are the wealthiest nation in the world. We set the standard for popular culture, with names like “Britney”, “50 Cent”, PDiddy” “Tom Cruise”, being known all around the world. Yes in deed, we are the world.
What remains for us is this: how then shall we live? How can we be in the world but not of it, especially given the fact that we live right smack dab in the belly of the beast? How do we live lives that are counter to the world system that is all around us? How do we stop being part of the cosumptive society of people who are more focused on what they wear, drive, listen to, look at, eat and drink? How do we pursue the Kingdom and demonstrate the reality of Jesus in this topsy turvy world?