But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
If you say you are a Christian, it is not an option – you must begin with theology (who is God, who am I before Him and what does He desire), rather than nationalism or partisanship (what is best for our country or the party I belong to) in discerning how to engage culture. While the latter is important, we must be the best of citizens; it MUST be subjugated to the will and ethic of the Kingdom. The most frightening thing for me is not our new President, or Russia or Islam or Fake News, or some other external influence, though each carry with them a reason for consternation. The thing that frightens me most is the famine of “believers” who recognize the collision of Kingdoms that is taking place around them.
I have long felt like my calling in life has been to help change the mind of the church. Jesus made it clear that he came to proclaim the good news that the Kingdom of God was near. The imperatives related to this declaration were for his followers to believe and repent (Mark 1). Repentance, while it means many things, at its simplest, most rendered definition it means to change one’s mind. I believe that is what the church in the West must do – change its mind regarding its identity.
I am stirred up today. Perhaps anger would better describe my feelings. The reason? I woke today to the news that a restaurant that I frequent was vandalized last night with racially charged graffiti.
I came across this today and felt like posting it, particuuarly as our country continues in its warring posture and stands on the precipice of another engagement.
I awoke this morning
to two very different bits of news.
The first was on CNN
about another senseless and seemingly random murder…this time in my own city. We’ve finally made the top story on CNN. Unfortunately, it was for
reprehensible reasons. Two teens beat a World War II vet to death yesterday
not far from my home. An 88-year-old man! This is immediately on the heels of
the similar senseless shooting of an Australian youth living and going to
school in Oklahoma by 3 other teens, apparently because they were “bored.” Although,
there does seem to be some race motive behind that act. Many in Australian at
this point are measuring whether coming to the U.S. is a reasonable venture
because of fear of this type of violence. There is even gestures of a “Boycott”
of the U.S.
Too frequently the church morphs into the dominant culture in its values, while adhering to a sub-cultural external expression (a Christian ghetto mentality and appearance). The very opposite must happen. Howard Snyder addresses this nuance when describing the differences between being counter-culture and sub-culture stating,
Just in from Spokane where Rob Fairbanks and I facilitated our second session of INFUSE, CA’s training in the theology and practice of missionary living. Some 70 – 80 leaders, missional pioneers and church folk participated in this second beta. From a presenter standpoint I think it went okay, though I feel I have yet to find a stride in presenting some of Lesslie Newbigin’s ideas. On a conceptual and very practical level, Newbigin has really helped me understand the church’s call in a much broader and more positive light. When Newbigin returned to his native England in 1974 after decades of cross-cultural immersion and ministry all across India, he recognized the dire need of his own culture to have what he called “a missionary encounter with the gospel.” The church in the UK had lost its ability to relate to the lives of normal people. It had failed to listen and adapt to the soundings of context, which left it seriously crippled in its capacity to interact and juxtapose its own key Story within the cultural milieu of secularism and emerging postmodern diversity. The gospel (which literally means “good news”) was no longer viewed as relevant to the needs and lives of Western people.