DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Blessed

Written by: on March 23, 2018

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” said Pat Robertson. He also said, “Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many were homosexuals – the two things seem to go together.”1  Non Christians that are not going to church, not seeing the helpfulness and ministries of God’s people get their perceptions of what a Christianity is from T.V. shows and radio programs; some that “sounds insane” and “paranoid”. 2 Christianity’s biggest threat seems to be itself, it is its own worst nightmare. The message of the love of God, His faithfulness and living a transformed life gets lost when some of most dominating Christian representatives seem to do and say things that make most people cringe.

Douthat writes, in Bad Religion: How we became a nation of heretics, about the history of American Christendom that has brought us to where we are today. Some preachers would say we are now teaching the watered-down version of Christianity so as not to be offensive. Whether this is so or there has been a change in language so our post christian society can understand Christ, there has been a shift in the public perception of the Church. “Douthat acknowledges the flourishing of traditional Christianity in a variety of subcultures; the continued existence and even vibrancy of orthodoxy is not the problem. His problem is the public irrelevance of orthodoxy in the culture at large…[Douthat misses the nostalgia of orthodoxy] This nostalgia wants the Time cover, the Oxford job, the ear of the president.”3 When Christianity doesn’t influence politicians, doesn’t call people to oppose certain practices, do we then cease to be a light in the darkness? Some would say yes. The church’s place in society and its influence has been one of controversy in many generations.

From Constantine’s legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire, there has been those that wanted to politicize it. Even Augustine lived, worshiped, and taught under a Roman Empire that claimed to be more Christian than its practices displayed. I am sure he loved his culture and saw the decline of what he thought the world should be. He challenged heresies in his day and continues to teach many the ways of the Lord. Throughout our known history, there have been those that have tried to move faith out of temples, synagogues and churches and into the political arena. The United States long thought to be the new promised land, should have been humbled when Abraham Lincoln publicly called it a land of “almost a chosen people.” 4 Even in his day, people were elevating themselves to be equal with the Jews and equal to those that God is blessing. Like every great country, people see their own potential and attribute their greatness to a special blessing of God. Even in China today, there are Christians that believe the financial success and growing power of this nation is due to the favor of God and the growing Christian community.

In America there are deep and life altering concerns of how to live out the faith that has shaped our life. Christians have always had to find a way to live in this world and not be only loyal to it. This is difficult as we are naturally tied to the countries, areas and denominations that we were raised in. “Faced with two choices, accommodation or resistance, most Christian leaders chose the former.[He goes on to suggest]the possibility that Christianity might be an inheritance rather than a burden.” We choose to find a middle ground, find a compromise when given a choice. I don’t know if accommodation is always a wrong stance to take. Finding a place that conversations can take place is important in having understanding and openness between people that disagree. The problem comes when our compromise moves us away from our beliefs or makes us on see the speck in our neighbors eye.

“The biggest threat on Christianity is godlessness among Christians… many of us don’t understand that. We’re too busying identifying the “sinful problems” around us that we’re missing the godlessness creeping into the Church. If we spent the same effort identifying and disciplining ourselves away from potential godlessness, and pursued authentic holiness, any threat against Christianity would be minimal…We’re too caught-up in our pleasures, rights, and personal desires, that we miss out on being a disciple of Jesus.5

Whether you live under the thumb of Theodosius I, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, or Pat Robertson the kingdoms we are supporting and building are not of this earth. Mark reminded me last week that we are “living in exile” in a world whose focus is building itself, its own power and its own legacy. How we represent Christ, how we faithfully embody the shalom of God is what will ultimately bring about true change and transformation. “Because ultimately this faithful presence and witness…is the best thing we can offer the world.”6  

 

2Ibid

4Dohthat, Ross; Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. (New York, Free Press. 2012)254

6Dohthat,293

About the Author

Greg

Greg has a wife and 3 children. He has lived and work in Asia for over 12 years. He is currently the Asia Director of Imanna Laboratories, which tests and inspects marine products seeking US Coast Guard certification. His company Is also involved in teaching and leadership development.

15 responses to “Blessed”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Greg,

    Provoking introduction! Had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Thanks for the quote,
    “The biggest threat on Christianity is godlessness among Christians… many of us don’t understand that. We’re too busying identifying the “sinful problems” around us that we’re missing the godlessness creeping into the Church. If we spent the same effort identifying and disciplining ourselves away from potential godlessness, and pursued authentic holiness, any threat against Christianity would be minimal…We’re too caught-up in our pleasures, rights, and personal desires, that we miss out on being a disciple of Jesus.”

    But most of all, thanks for your closing, about being a faithful witness. I believe you are doing that. Well done, and have a great Spring break!

  2. Yes! Living in exile is how I see it. It is really depressing… but we must have a reality check and recognize that what passes for Christianity in many corners of the world is not faithful presence.

  3. mm M Webb says:

    Greg,
    Excellent post and introduction to bad press as another scheme of the evil one to divide, disrupt, discourage, and destroy the witness of many Christians. I was one of the frustrated ones too, hearing some of the TV evangelist’s messages. The only one I trust, is Charles Stanley, and I am cautious even with him.
    Thanks for your faithful service in China. We do not thank you enough, and praise God for your life on life difference that you make for God’s Kingdom. Yes, stand firm!
    I agree, the ministry of presence fits the Great Commission, and fits into the “go, preach, heal, baptize, disciple” the world for Christ. How we do that, humbly submitted to the direction of the Holy Spirit, is what we should be living for, right?
    Please use Eph. 6:13 every day. I always end with the Stand firm, but the first part of the verse is my life verse, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Greg says:

      Thanks Mike. Your emphasis reminds me often to be ready and prepared for the life God has called us to live. Thank you for your faithful presence in my mind and in our class.

  4. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Greg,
    Thanks for the insight, I found the quote by Lincoln to be quite interesting, I have never seen that one. I always appreciate your emphasis on your culture where God has put you and your family. I bet there would be a lot of eyebrows raised in American churches to hear that Chinese Christians “that believe the financial success and growing power of this nation is due to the favor of God and the growing Christian community.” I bet there would be a bunch of arguments on no way the U.S. is God’s chosen country…

    Jason

    • Greg says:

      I thought it interesting as much as we (American Christians) love to quote our forefathers that I had never heart Lincoln say that as well. May that is a little revisionist history in our own country. I only found it in this book (I guess you can teach an old stubborn dog something new).
      I wonder how many growing nations through history have thought of themselves has the chosen or blessed nation.

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Greg,

    Yes, regardless of the context in which we find ourselves we are to be living in a countercultural way. This was no less true at the time so positively affirmed in Douthat’s book. While it is easy to poke holes in flimsy and superficial Christianity in the contemporary world I wonder who were the vocal opponents of the enmeshment of so-called Christianity and US culture in the middle part of the last century. To my way of thinking to be on the outskirts of society is exactly where we are meant to be.

    • Greg says:

      I agree Dan-that I chose some good straw men to knock down 🙂 and that every century had voices called Christians to be counter-cultural. Unfortunate we love to rally to the voices that tell us what we want to hear and be,

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    Greg, I was thinking about Paul as I read your post. I have come to a possible conclusion…I believe Paul had a sort of political agenda regarding Christianity, which he would later realize may have been a waste of time. We see this desire for him to reach Rome…it was all about getting the message to this highly political arena. However, once he finally gets there following all of the drama and hype, the Rome part of the story just seems to fizzle. Perhaps Paul realized that Christianity does not have its power in politics…it is a power in itself. There are far too many people that believe that Christianity can change this country, but all that has actually happened is that this country keeps changing Christianity.

    A question: In China, do you see an effort to penetrate the government with Christianity as the means to evangelizing the nation?

    • Greg says:

      I have a feeling that Paul loved to talk politics. I think like the states today, we can’t get away from it. He probably had deep thoughts and opinions on how great the world would be if God were in charge but I believe you can see his journey in his writing. Your question makes me nervous to answer. The Gospel has penetrated many aspects of leadership and continue to have a subtle influence.

  7. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    woah shocking quotes. I was desperate to see who said it by the end of it.

    Loved your comment about accommodation isn’t always bad. I think I would try and find a different word for it though. Not sure what would be the right combination of words. Serving unique needs? engage in cultural context?

    you’re right that we cant compromise our values, and cant compromise the “mere Christianity” aspects.

    • Greg says:

      Kyle,
      I walked away after posting this weeks blog knowing I didn’t have any more time to make it better so first of all thanks for reading this week’s jumble of thoughts 🙂 With the Pat Robertson’s quote being so shocking, almost anything I said after that was better than him. I would love to have flushed out that aspect of accommodation concept a little more. Maybe that word with its baggage isn’t understood as well as I would like it to have. I appreciate you reading between that lines to understand the heart of what I was getting at.

  8. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Great post, Greg! I appreciated your lead-in with Pat Robertson, and of course I was cringing the entire quote. The issue of heresy is complex for sure and I always appreciate your cultural perspective and Godly wisdom!

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