Brian asks himself and us the two big questions:
#1 What are the biggest problems in the world today?
#2 What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?
Unfortunately, too many of today's Evangelicals would answer #1 as something to the effect of "people are dying and going to hell." And there's no question that's a problem. But the tendency is to focus on the "going to hell" part and not the "dying" part. I think Brian's trying to change that tendency. We have allowed the kingdom of God to be redefined as going to heaven when you die. But Jesus talked about the kingdom at hand, the kingdom here and now, the good news for us today. I have adopted as my own metaphor Brian's use of "God's dreams coming true" as how I try to describe the kingdom of heaven. God has dreams for this world, as we have dreams for our kids. He wants those dreams to become reality. But they don't always do so. I think that this is better than talking about God's "will", which can be a confusing topic, especially when you deal with evil and suffering. But talking about God's dreams for this world brings a fresh perspective into the discussion. Yes, he could snap his fingers and make his dreams come true, but he's not into that. For some reason, he has chosen to work in and through us to make his dreams come true, his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
For Brian some of this came to a head when he was visiting Africa to speak in a pastor's conference. He had many discussions with those pastors, and they referred to the kingdom of God often in terms of colonial and post-colonial worldviews. Colonial thinking led to certain attitudes and actions from both the colonizers and the colonized. Post-colonial thinking changes those radically for both groups of people. Put yourself in either group, and let your imagination wonder for a few minutes, and you'll get the picture.
In the same way, colonialism is like "the gospel of avoiding hell" and post-colonialism like "the gospel of the kingdom of God." The reason "everything must change" is because the old way of looking at the gospel as hell-avoidance led to many wrong conclusions about how to approach this life. As one participant in the African conference said "Today, for the first time, I see what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. I see that it's about changing this world, not just escaping it and retreating into our churches. If Jesus' message of the kingdom of God is true, then everything must change. Everything must change."
So what does Jesus have to say about the world's greatest problems? What does he say about war, poverty, slavery, human-trafficking, AIDS/HIV and other epidemics, and the like?