Against A Christian Counter-Culture

I have to admit I’ve never been excited about the idea of “Christian” music, “Christian” movies, or even the “Christian” Yellow Pages.  I don’t listen to Christian radio stations, I rarely go to Christian movies, and the last time I found the Christian Yellow Pages on the front door stoop I threw it away without even removing the plastic wrapper.  It’s not because I don’t like Christians.  I do.  I am one.  And, I think Christians have more to offer in the way of culture than any other worldview, philosophy or religion.

The problem is instead of infiltrating the prevailing culture and transforming it, Christians seek to create a counter-culture.  They create music only Christians will like and movies with religious language only Christians will understand and a phone book so Christians will only have to do business with Christians.  As a result, Christians end up intellectually ingrown, relationally incestuous and culturally irrelevant.

Jesus said the kingdom of God was like yeast which a woman took and worked into dough until it permeated the dough. (Matt. 13:33).  Yeast doesn’t work unless it is worked into the dough.  Jesus also said Christians are to be the salt of the earth. (Matt. 5:13). Salt doesn’t do any good unless it is in food.  Christians are called to be ethically separate from the world, not separated from the world.  In fact, Jesus prayed for Christians saying, “I’m not asking that you take them out of the world.” (John 17:15).  Too many Christians are trying to get out of the world; Jesus is trying to get them into the world.

The game is in the world, not in an insulated cultural cloister.  If you are a Christian, King Jesus wants you in the game, engaging the culture, changing the world.

How Your Job is Integral to the Kingdom

“I just wish I didn’t have to work so much so I could have more time for ministry.” It’s a noble thought, but for most people, i.e., those not called into the full-time ministry, it is misguided. If you are not called to the full-time ministry your need to understand how your job is integral to the kingdom of God.

Your job is not justified merely by how many people you reach for Jesus. Your job is integral to the kingdom of God for a more fundamental, but perhaps less obvious reason than that.

The kingdom of God, like most earthly kingdoms, is concerned about two things: 1) managing territory already under its jurisdiction; and 2) expanding its borders. In discussing the kingdom of God it’s easy to skip over the first and focus only on the second. In fact, I suspect most Christians have never considered the importance of managing earthly territory for the kingdom of God. We tend to justify everything in light of heaven. Continue reading “How Your Job is Integral to the Kingdom”

Napoleon on King Jesus

Thought you might find this quote interesting:

“I die before my time and my body shall be given back to the earth and devoured by worms.  What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal kingdom of Christ.  I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Alexander and of Caesar should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant–Jesus–should be able to stretch his hands acrosss the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.” 

Napoleon Bonaparte

Psalm 22

Psalm 22 is a well-known messianic Psalm: v1 (“My God, my God was hast Thou forsaken me?”); v.16 (“They pierced my hands and my feet.”); v. 17 (“I can count all my bones.”); v18 (“And for my clothing they cast lots.”).  But as often as these verses are cited and discussed, the prophetic verses in the later half of the psalm are ignored.  Here are the verses to which I am referring:

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s
And He rules over the nations.”

Psalm 22:27-29.  My question is, “How did David expect that all the earth would turn to the Lord and worship Him?”   At the time David spoke these words, Israel occupied a modest portion of the Middle East.  King David knew the Philistines, the Moabites and the Egyptians didn’t yet worship the Lord.

I suspect when David spoke these words, he was looking down the road thinking his kingdom or his descendants’ kingdom would continue to expand and bring the knowledge of the Lord to the ends of the earth.  Of course, a prophet needn’t understand fully the meaning of his prophecy, and I believe that was the case here.  Here, I believe David was prophesying of the coming kingdom of God.  He was speaking of the kingdom, whose ruler is not a man, but the Lord, “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over nations.” (v. 28).

Anyway, that’s how it reads to me.  Your thoughts? GS

Kingdom Hero: S. Truett Cathy

The kingdom of God is functioning as it should when Christians in earthly positions of authority execute their responsibilities in those positions diligently, skillfully and ethically in obedience to King Jesus, who thereby reigns through that position.  S. Truett Cathy is an excellent example of one who has used his position of authority to exercise the delegated authority of King Jesus. 

Cathy opened a restaurant in the Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Hapeville in 1946, which has since multiplied and grown into the franchise known as Chick-fil-A.  Cathy, a devout Christian who has taught Sunday School for more than forty years, made a decision before opening his first restaurant to honor the Sabbath and provide his employees Sundays off “to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so.”   He has never wavered from that decision in any of his more than 1,300 restaurants. 

The decision to forego profits one day out of every seven to purchase for one’s employees a day of rest demonstrates that Cathy values his employees more than profits.  It is the sort of value choice King Jesus expects of business owners exercising His delegated authority in the kingdom of God, and it the sort of decision Jesus blesses.  Check this out:  Chick-fil-A, though operating only six days out of seven, in terms of revenue produced is now the second-largest fast-food chicken restaurant chain in the United States.

When Christians hold positions of authority and exercise that authority in obedience to Jesus, He is free to pour out His blessings so that all who are subordinate to that authority can enjoy the blessings of being on Kingdom territory.  Whether those who work at Chick-fil-A are Christians or not, when they are at Chick-fil-A they are on Kingdom Territory, nesting under the branches of the tree that is the Kingdom of God.  (Matt. 13:31-32).  In such a place, even those who aren’t Christians experience the blessings of the rule of King Jesus.

So, hats off to Mr. Cathy.  And, oh yeah, remember to “eat mor chikin.”  GS