Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article, Please comment at the end after reading this article! – Kent
What Christianity can do for civilization is masked by well-meaning believers unconsciously drifting from the heartbeat of Jesus. Ironically, many Christians have held tightly to worn out forms, media, styles. They have successfully truncated the power of God and replaced relationship faith with institutional loyalty in the form of buildings, bureaucracies and irrelevant language. A condition of stasis in the body of the resurrected Christ—often called the Church has been a result. Stasis is a condition of interrupted blood flow.
That is just one side of this dilemma. The other renders the power of mission equally impotent. This is the terrible drift of Christianity to a bastardized faith that struggles, in practice, to resemble the culture of the Kingdom. Well-meaning believers who honestly love the church and love its Leader have inherited a religion that has quietly drifted from strategic behavior, leaving it a mere shadow of the New Testament wineskin Jesus created.
This is a cultural issue. Culture is a sum total of divine DNA imprinted on followers every time Jesus spoke “the Kingdom of God is like…”. The King’s culture is a DNA of very different values, beliefs, attitudes, priorities, and worldviews. Whenever aligned, these DNA elements reflect a faith that explodes with impact—sometimes called a revival. Drift castrates the body of Christ, rendering it impotent.
The Gospels are loaded with culture-building paradigm shifts of divine origin. The Book of Acts demonstrates what happens when Kingdom cultured people put into practice the mission of their faith. Divine DNA unleashes God’s power to turn civilizations upside down, impacting everything for the benefit of humankind. The Kingdom culture redeems individuals. These culturally transformed individuals are used by God to transform and redeem civilization. Jesus declared “my kingdom is not of this world” and demonstrated that it changes this world.
Henry David Thoreau once said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” Christianity is “causative” positioned. Politicians, laws, programs most often focus on the symptoms, not the cause. The genius of the Christian faith is that it goes to the root cause: the culture of the human heart. Transformational change begins there: in the person, in the church, in the government, in the community, in civilization. The mission-effectiveness of the church, at a causive level, is the Kingdom culture in the heart of each person. Christianity, in the early days, transformed the Roman Empire without bloodshed—expect, of course, the blood of Jesus. If you want the world to change, focus on your heart.
The rest of the New Testament, beyond the Gospels, and Acts, is the constant battle against drift. These letters and revelations are geared to re-tweak the culture of the King—the culture of the Kingdom. Why? Because culture changes everything. This is true about churches. When churches are fixated on resurfacing the parking lot, raising money, building buildings and running programs, they are consumed with symptoms not causative issues. All this stuff is important, just not most essential. Churches—from a mission-effective diagnosis—are often unhealthy. The key to health is Kingdom culture DNA. Consequently, the Apostle Paul challenges the Christians at Rome: “Do not be conformed to the outside world (do not drift)! Be transformed by God—a complete renewal of your mind—the way you think. Your paradigms. Then you will please God.” He tells the church at Philippi, “The attitude you should have is the one that Jesus had—considering others more important than yourselves.” This is a big time anti-consumer mentality that revolutionizes the way Christians approach church. Peter writes, “Since Jesus went through all of the crap that you are going through, and more, learn to think like him. Think like Jesus.” Hebrews 11 encourages believers in Jesus to risk and trust God, like the heroes of the faith did. The dramatically risk-adverse church today would collapse of heart failure facing some of the challenges that God put before the heroes of Hebrews 11. And that is right: it is an issue of the heart. The Book of Revelation reminds Christians that they have lost their first love—their passion is on the wrong priorities. From cover to cover, the New Testament church is all about Kingdom culture. Get that right and Christianity flourishes. When Christianity flourishes, God redeems the culture of the land. When God redeems the culture of the land, there is a bright future for civilization. Oddly, the key is Jesus’ Kingdom, which is not of this world.
Help write my new book and provide me feedback on this article. Please comment below! – Kent
The risk aversion is symptomatic of a general selfishness. At root, people work very hard to avoid suffering. Sacrifice–whether turning outward for mission or engaging culture for the sake of reaching people–involves suffering. It is not always manifested in physical suffering (although sometimes it is), but discomfort, vulnerability, loss of control, inconvenience, etc. It is a Philippians 2:1-5 lifestyle patterned after the King (2:6-11). In fact, the culture you speak of–the culture of the Kingdom–is a culture of suffering, or being poured out, emptied (kenosis), because that’s who Jesus is–poured out and made man, poured out through crucifixion and death. Yet, as he was raised, we will be raised.
Thanks Kelly. Indeed we are not called to be comfortable at all, yet our world today drives us to seek being comfortable above all else rather than seeking God’s will.