UnConventional Thinking

The past two weeks featured (complete with wall-to-wall coverage!) the political conventions. The Republicans gathered in Cleveland. The Democrats met in Philadelphia. At each, promises of hope, change, unity, and making things great again were issued, same as at every other political convention in the history of the Republic.

Having been alive for several sets of unkept promises, I confess a little cynicism.

This guy wasn’t far off with his comparison, reflecting on an annual custom celebrated throughout his church upbringing:

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I may be a tad cynical, but I don’t want to come across as uncaring.

What I wish to emphasize is some unconventional thinking — or at least some thinking on a convention you maybe haven’t seen on cable news the past couple weeks. Oddly enough, it might be the one of the three that actually end up changing the world. 

In fact, I’m pretty sure it will.

The same week that the Republicans gathered in Cleveland, I was at a different gathering in Longview, Texas. 50+ students from our church joined hundreds of others from around the midwest and south for Christ in Youth’s MOVE conference.

Like the politicians, we had main sessions and guest speakers and inspirational music and break out seminars. Unlike the politicians, the emphasis was not on a single nation, but a whole Kingdom. 

For five days and four nights, nearly 1,000 high schoolers worshipped Jesus. They committed to build God’s Kingdom by loving the least of these, speaking up about their faith, becoming more like Christ, and getting their hands dirty in service to others. When the vans and busses pulled out on Friday night, you got the feeling those students weren’t going to be the same ever again. These weren’t empty campaign promises. I think these kids are serious.

Those students want to change the world. All of it. It’s not that they don’t care about their country — they do — but a vision for their country is too small. They want to build a Kingdom, and I believe God will use them to do it — not through a political power as their platform, but with the scabbed knees of a servant.

I know that most folks are gravitating toward one candidate or the other out of necessity. We’re running out of time, and people are being forced to choose. But I still know many who are frustrated with the whole process and wondering what is going to happen. I think I know.

I think the emerging generation is going to understand that while the political battlefield is certainly worthy of their participation, it is in fact a lesser battle than the one upon which they are being called to engage. A vision for a party is too small. A vision for a people is what God is asking them to embrace. As they do, as they become those people, the unkept promises of hope and change long issued by politicians will be fully realized as the Gospel changes hearts.

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Don’t get me wrong. The RNC and DNC have their place. Their conventions serve a purpose. I am not calling for anarchy or even apathy. I’m simply calling for the people of God to latch on to the images I saw first-hand at a student conference. There weren’t any news cameras to capture the promises made, but that doesn’t mean they were insincere.

Those students are Kingdom workers, with a capital “K,” and not merely kingdom workers. They are not satisfied with lowercase living. Their eyes may prove bigger than their stomachs, but their hearts are too big to not give it a shot. Fully engaged, they are sacrificing, serving, and striving for Jesus.

Of the three conventions, if I had to vote for one as most likely to make an impact, I’m going with the crazy teenagers who have caught a vision for a King and His Kingdom. They are unconventional (or at least less conventional), but they might just change the whole world anyway.

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