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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

The Place of Christians in the World

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Those of you who know me personally know that I care deeply about the place of Christians in the world.  Though I've never really done so, I would love to sometime teach a class on Engaging Culture.  As I think about being reformed, that's really how I'm reformed.  I'm not really reformed as much in the 5-points way (although I'm not against 5-pointers... in fact lots of my friends are 5-pointers).  I'm reformed in the sense that I believe that God is remaking the world, reforming the world from sin and evil, turning us back toward himself and that he calls us to leave allegiance to the kingdoms of this world and join in His Kingdom that is coming and has already begun to come in Jesus.  It strikes me often that subsersives in the Kingdom of God should look different than the rest of the world, and how little we do. On my darker days I get frustrated with myself for looking and being so normal, for mirroring the image of the world, for not being a counter-cultural like the early Christians, for being too "of the world."  I've got lots to say about that, and too much to blog about.  I might hit on it later.  But... since we hear so much about politics lately with Obama, Clinton, and McCain (boy this is getting old), this quote from Stanley Hauerwas has come to mind a few times [from A Better Hope - resources for the church confronting capitalism, democracy, and postmodernity]:

The problematic nature of this project [Christian full participation in American life] is not due to the increasing loss of membership, social status, and political power of mainstream Christianity… … more important has been the increasing recognition that even if such churches remained socially and politically powerful, they would have nothing distinctive to say as Christians about the challenges facing this society.  That such churches have nothing distinctive to contribute is not surprising, since their social and political power originally derived from the presumption that there was no or little essential difference between the church and the principles of the American experiment.    That presumption may, of course, also help explain the decline of such churches because it is by no means clear why you need to go to church when such churches only reinforce what you already know from participation in a democratic society.  [pp. 25-26]

What I find so interesting about this quote, and what Hauerwas is talking about in this book, is that Christianity hasn't just lost its voice, we don't have much to say.  That pains my heart.  Why?  Because the church is God's plan to reach the world with the transforming power of the Kingdom come in Jesus, who is Lord.  And we don't have anything distinctive to say?  Isn't it the people of God who should be on the forefront of all major issues facing our world including race relations, global trade, poverty, health care, education, stewardship of creation, power, liberty, justice, ethics, and on and on.  Is the new Kingdom reality come in and through the resurrection power of Jesus the hope for a lost and dying world?  Or not?

We not only need a voice; we need something significant to say.


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