"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." – Galatians 5:6 by M. William Ury
William Booth preaches at a meeting in a tent in East London | Photo: International Heritage Centre

I had a serendipitous experience last week. I witnessed 14 graduate students explore the connection between Christian spirituality and cultural transformation. Jesus met us. I marveled as the Spirit bound our hearts together. The most beautiful to me was the class composition: seven were black and seven were white. Christ’s culture is always simple, alluring, mysterious and powerful.

Riots, fires and looting were what the media obsessed over. Our horizon was filled with Christ. We concluded that the Church is not a subset of American tribalism but rather a unique, dynamic, resurrected, self-donating community. We, in counter-cultural mode, spoke of how Christ truly re-creates a culture. Faith displaced fear. Hope birthed vision. Love dynamized constructive change.

I noted that in the year following John Wesley’s heartwarming experience, his journal recounts 14 original ministries in violent and chaotic England. He preached and demonstrated that the living God could regenerate a soul dead in sin and redirect a heart outside itself to other’s crushing needs. Slowly, patiently, faithfully, applied grace replaced raging societal hopelessness. True love for Christ and charitable justice are inseparable.

A century later, the Booths turned to similar despair in East London. They practiced the same liberating Gospel. For them, every person was essential and made in the image of God. Their faith claimed that restorative grace could not only lift a person out of the darkness but also must release that person to dispense true love in moral outreach.

Jesus always transforms culture the same way. It may not feel like it every day, but what you are doing is faithfulness that must express itself in love. If we lean our all upon Him, then He can shunt culture-creating power into the most destitute of places.


Creator, restore Your image in us. Redeemer, break any chains of despair in us. Sanctifier, breathe Your love through us. Amen.

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