Progressing or Protecting the Status Quo?

“Discontent with the status quo is a great catalyst for vision.” –John Maxwell

“…there is still a need for those of us nestled deep within the Christian bubble to look beyond the status quo and critically assess the degree to which we are really living biblically.” –Francis Chan

‘You’ve got to leave your past in your behind’ –Pumba (the Lion King)

What is it organizational or even denominationally that instills this thought that the status quo must be kept?  In The Salvation Army I think we often wrongly use the song “So we’ll lift up the banner on high…” as a rally cry to what we’ve done instead of what we could be doing.  The Status quo can be healthy, it can be a source of good…but when it becomes the main thing instead of the Main Thing, then we’ve lost our perspective and we need vision realignment.

I humorously remember the time that I went to the optometrist and had my eyes dilated so that they could get a good view of the present health of my vision.  I had to wait for a few minutes after the drops were administered so that the chemical reaction within my eye could appropriately take place.  Then under a lighted scope the doctor peered into the eye.  Thankfully nothing was wrong but following the simple procedure I was to go out and select the style of glasses that I would like to wear.  No one warned me that my vision was now slightly impaired, the pupils were twice their normal circumference and would be sensitive to light.  There I was, slightly yet temporarily impaired, trying to study the color, shape and style of my – would be glasses.

I probably looked rather funny that day, holding the glasses close to my face while wearing those ridiculous plastic sun visors over my eyes.  The thought occurred to me in the process of picking out my new glasses, that the optometrists of the world had a very spectacular sense of humor and I would have to live with glasses that I had picked while still very much visually impaired.

Protecting, even upholding the status quo as the measure by which we have to lead by or vision cast for the future is like picking out glasses while your eyes have just been fully dilated…it just doesn’t make sense and on the outside is a humorous moment to behold.  The status quo is defined by how things are currently, and I would add that they become that way currently but living beyond the status quo of our past.

Within The Salvation Army sphere, had William Booth upheld the status quo of his day, He would have remained a Methodist minister and conducted his evangelical ministry from behind the doors of the church.  But to move beyond status quo of today means we must take risks.  Sometimes risks are unpopular because the waters surrounding ‘risk’ are untried and turbulent.  No one enjoys change if they are not the one propelling the change.  Yet to remain within the status quo, to play it safe, to keep things the way they have been or are currently is to be like the miserly servant of the master who was entrusted one talent in the Parable that Jesus told, the servant goes and buries the treasure because the risk was too great for him.  He played it safe and so when it was time that the Master called together his servants again after returning this miserly servant proclaimed;    ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” Matthew 25:24-30

The Status quo is not what we are called to uphold.  This measurement is manmade, temporary and can only tell us of where we’ve been but not where we’re to be in the future.  Leaders cannot or should not be willing to settle for and rely on the things that we’ve already done for the kingdom.  We can’t hang our hats on them, pat our stomachs and stop casting the vision for tomorrow.  When we settle, when all of our energies are expended to protect the status quo watch out because inevitably if we remain there God will appoint someone else in our place more willing to take the risks that we are not.   It is my hope and prayer that this never happens.

“Faith in God’s revelation has nothing to do with an ideology which glorifies the status quo.” -Karl Barth
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