The New Testament Early Church was certain of the missional reality that they were living in a world that was not their home. The Apostle Peter encouraged the Church to be mindful of their status as temporary residents, sojourners, aliens and strangers to the culture, yet he exhorted them to live among the unbelievers in a manner that would point them to Jesus Christ and the gospel. For far too long, Christians have been living out this exhortation in two opposite and ineffective ways: 1. Christians removing themselves from the culture by retreating and forming Christian alternatives to isolate themselves from the world. 2. Christians blending into the culture by resembling unbelievers, with little Christian worldview distinction to show evidence of a relationship with Christ.
A Third Way
Neither of these ways of living is a true option for the Church who is called to live among the culture, while not resembling the culture. While we are temporary residents of this world, the Church must remember that she lives and has an address here among neighbors who don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ. What the Church must practice is a third way which equally rejects separating from the culture and blending into the culture. This third way engages unbelievers through intentional relationships with a missional purpose that follows Jesus into the world and speaks an everlasting truth into an ever-changing culture. It is the Church who holds the answers to racism, poverty, the family and the rapidly advancing sexual revolution, and redeeming these complicated areas of culture can only be accomplished through a gospel movement of Christians into the world.
This third way engages unbelievers through intentional relationships with a missional purpose that follows Jesus into the world and speaks an everlasting truth into an ever-changing culture.
Returning to the Original Model
This idea is nothing new. It is simply returning to the model that our Lord Jesus modeled, and the New Testament churches insisted as the only way in which the Great Commission is to be carried out. Distinct lives point to a distinct God, but those lives will never be seen unless we live among the Gentiles, refusing to let our lights go unseen. In 21st century local church ministry, the wheel does not need to be reinvented, but rather rediscovered, in a missional effort that doesn’t remove from or resemble the culture, but that points people to the one who redeems the culture for the glory of His name.
Distinct lives point to a distinct God, but those lives will never be seen unless we live among the Gentiles, refusing to let our lights go unseen.
Published November 16, 2015