A Word From Grace: Monday Edition - Culture or Kingdom?

I recently received in the mail a newsletter from a prominent American Evangelical leader announcing new efforts by his organization to confront “anti-Christian sentiment” “on the cultural battlefield.” Reports of Christian outrage over incidents where the culture goes against the grain of Christian morality are widespread . Attitudes like this one represent a common reaction to a culture that increasingly rejects historically “Christian” ideals and values. It feels like ground is being lost, so Christians fight back. But, is this how we ought to respond? I want to propose another route. The route of exile.

Exile is a prominent theme in the Bible, and we see it come up in the story of David. In 2 Samuel 14-15, David’s son Absalom stages a coup and takes control of the kingdom. What should David do? Should he respond like the culture warriors of today by waging battle against his son? No, instead David opted to leave his kingdom. He chose exile.
 
In the midst of David’s story, a wise woman from Tekoa delivers a message to King David and two lines of that message serve as powerful reminders for us today. First she said, “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” In other words, the lives and kingdoms of men are not as important and permanent as we tend to believe. Let’s not be so possessive of them.  Second, she said God “devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” These words reflect a theme in Scripture that Yahweh is a God who brings exiles back - Jacob returns to Canaan, Israel returns from Egypt, Israel returns from Babylon. At first blush, David’s decision to leave Jerusalem to Absalom may strike us as cowardice, but, in reality, it demonstrates David’s unshakable trust in God. And God delivered, eventually restoring David to his rightful place.
 
What does this mean for us? Simply, it means that we don’t need to win the culture. We need to trust that God will restore us exiles to our rightful place as coheirs of Jesus’ eternal kingdom.This is the kingdom we are called to help build – a kingdom that since its inauguration at the time of Jesus’ incarnation, has been a subversive, grassroots, person-to-person movement. So how do we build it? By following the way of Jesus.
 
The exhortation of Jesus in Luke 6 is for us to “do good to those who hate you” and to “bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:27-28). In 1 Timothy 2, Paul tells us that “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (1 Tim 2:24-26).
 
We live in a quarrelsome culture and Christians are increasingly bowing to the pressure to be defensive just like everyone else. Yes, we ought to pursue public policies that reflect the kingdom, but when then doesn't happen, we don't need to fear as though God is losing. And how we go about influencing things matters. Pastor Larry Osborne, in his video teaching Thriving in Babylon, says that when we shift from a posture of humble persuasion to one of cultural war, we make those who don’t yet know Christ into the enemy, “and you don’t win many enemies over with warfare.” As Christians our task is not to enforce our cultural preferences, rather it is to introduce people to Jesus through word and deed and then to allow him to build his kingdom in and through them.
 
Application – First, choose wisely which voices you will listen to. Choose input that sounds like Jesus': preaching love for enemies, care for foreigners, and denial of self for the sake of God and others. Second, follow Jesus' commands mentioned above by finding ways to do good to those who hate you (or disagree with you) and to pray blessings upon those who curse you (or your values).

Sean's Picks

Searching for God Knows What - This book was one of the more influential books in my faith development in my 20's. Donald Miller is unlike any other Christian writer I know. He has a unique way of using humor to drive home deep spiritual points. In Searching for God Knows What, he gives voice to the deepest longing of the human heart.

Missions Spotlight:
Russell Abraham (Global Gates)

Please PRAY FOR US, because we have been praying for you! God is at work, even during this time of chaos.  He has everything in His control! We all are working from home, taking every advantage to reach out with the Good News of Christ to our family and friends who are lost.  We are following up with those to whom we have been sharing with for a long time over Facebook, phone conversations and video calls. We have been encouraging our fellow brothers and sisters to take this great opportunity to share the good news with their OIKOS (people that belong to them).
 
PRAY FOR “IBRAHIM” (Kaniz’s cousin) He told me that he had recently been watching some videos about Jesus and reading the NT. He was desiring to know more about Jesus, since his faith in Islam did not give him assurance of salvation. He told me that he was seeking the truth and found that Jesus was slain and washed away our sins. He discovered that Jesus is the only way to God in which we can have hope to be in God’s presence for eternity. I am really surprised, about the power of the Gospel which was sewn into his heart about 10 years ago. Through the years, God was the one who was giving the growth! Now the tree is ready to bear fruits. Ibrahim, desiring to receive salvation, humbled himself, asking what he could do to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior so that he may receive the guarantee of his salvation. We read from the Bible and reviewed the Gospel over again so that he can find the truth. He said, he is so tired and worried for his salvation. He couldn’t find joy and peace through practicing Islam. We read John 3,14-16 and Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He was rejoicing and said, “what a simple truth that we have been ignoring!” The God who created heaven and earth came down to us, but we don’t recognize him because we always rely on our own knowledge. I gave him some verses to study for homework. Please pray for Ibrahim as he is ready to accept Christ. Please pray for his spiritual protection and that God can open the eyes of his heart to experience the Grace of God through Jesus.
 
PRAY FOR SEEKERS. This very hour Muslims are asking about Jesus and His second coming; this is a great hour for seekers and a great opportunity for us to spread the Gospel message seeds to those seeking truth.
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