This is struggle over public culture, and as much as some secularists have
reason to despise a tiny minority of sealed-minded, despotic “Christian”
rightists, her stories of struggle demonstrate that some (I said some)
secularists are every bit as angry and close-minded in contending for their visions
of meaning and moral order.
I don’t pretend to have an answer for such grave matters, but
we thought it valuable to discuss these matters. This is what I wrote.
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Christians must not contend for souls and culture in a Nietzschean
way. We know the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, but
we don’t know what the Church will look like vis-à-vis culture when Christ
returns. The question for us is will He find us faithful? Cultural
dominance is not a factor in the New Testament, but faithfulness is. If
our faithfulness and God's sovereign working results in cultural influence or
even dominance, as at other periods in Western history, so be it. But if our faithfulness and His sovereign
upholding of the world results in our being a remnant of martyrs, so be it. His
kingdom is not of this world and while we are to pray
and work to extend His kingdom in
this world, this is not our home.
My inspiration is Abraham, as the author of Hebrews writes:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was
called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he
went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of
promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with
him of the same promise. For
he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and
builder is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10, emphasis mine.)
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:14-16, emphasis mine.)
Paul also addresses this subject to the Philippians, a people acutely aware of what Roman citizenship meant amidst an empire filled with non-citizen subjects.
So what does Paul tell the Christians in Philippi? “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
This is not our home. We are sojourners who love, work, suffer, grieve, invest, celebrate, lose, create, hurt. In our faithfulness as subjects we participate in the renewal of all things, but there is One who sovereignly effects that renewal. We sow in hope, not in demand that our efforts obligate Him. We sow like Bengalis build homes on the
Bangladesh coast, not knowing when or if another tsunami will destroy it all. We love and work because it is our command and our joy, though we often suffer loss. Amid both joy that never quite satisfies and gut-wrenching hurt we are reminded that this is not our home.
It is not for us to control or to make things happen. That’s why we emphasize being faithful, knowing the outcomes are in the Lord’s hands. Being faithful means rejecting the weapons of this world. We will not fight as they fight. Nor will see our ideological opponents as ‘the enemy,’ because we wrestle not against flesh and blood. We could lose the whole world and yet through Jesus gain our souls. This is not a call for disengagement from culture, but rather a call for serious engagement that simultaneously holds our hands open to the Lord and says, “It’s Yours. Our hearts and bodies are invested and so we hope, but it’s Yours. Do what You will, for You must reign.”
© 2006, Glenn Lucke.