“…the vast majority of ‘Christians’ that I have encountered arbitrarily dismiss this generation as ‘lost’ or, worse, unworthy of their time and attention … From what I see in the Gospels, Jesus preached to society from within the culture of his day, not from above it as the Pharisees did. In my opinion, the majority of churches today are more concerned with converting one cultural image into their own cultural image, with the implication that theirs is ‘Christian’ (where no one drinks alcohol or listens to secular music and everyone dresses in business attire), while those cultures which differ from their view are not ... this is definitely pharisaical. Unfortunately, I find this sums up the majority of the church world all too well.”
– Crash, a Christian who owns tattoo parlors, is immersed in the culture of his community; the quote above is from The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll
I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying Mark Driscoll’s book The Radical Reformission. It has, among other things, brought me to repentance over the way I have ignored the culture I am living within.
I have lost my faith in the power of God to change lives. It’s like a creeping form of Arminianism. Arminianism was founded by a Dutch theologian named Jacobus Arminius. Arminianism holds, among other things, that God's election is conditional on faith in Jesus. That God allows His grace to be resisted by those who are unwilling to believe.
(I don’t want to get into the Calvinist / Arminian debate here. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, just look at the links to the other sites on this page. It’s just that there are many who are much more talented and motivated to defend one side or the other than me.)
It’s as if I have already decided that many in my culture will not ever reach the point where they will repent and believe in Jesus. I have pre-judged them as unwilling, despite God’s gracious leadings, to ever become a Christian. I have decided, in effect, that God will not use my testimony or witness to save certain people because I believe they are unwilling to listen.
This “hyper-arminianism” leads me and many of my brothers and sisters in Christ to ignore the power of the Holy Spirit to bring people to repentance from any life situation. It’s like hyper-calvinism, (which does not allow a witness to those who do not show evidence of regeneration) only it’s much more insidious because it flies under the radar. It seems we can go too far on either side of the theological spectrum, leading to the same result: failure to witness.
Crash goes on to say that we need to “recognize the power of the gospel to change lives.” My God, have mercy on me for embracing this truth in theory without counting on this truth in practice. God grant me repentance and new faith in Your grace.
Living in rural West Tennessee, I am going to have my work cut out for me. I’ll have to come down off my “high horse” of intellectualism. I’ll have to get the calluses back on my hands. I’ll have to become willing to open my home and my life to others and honestly explore the difference Christ can make in our lives.
I’ll also have to act differently when I travel with my job. I travel often to other towns and cities where I run into others who are much different than me. I’ll have to be willing to talk to the tattooed, poorly dressed, sometimes drunk people I come in contact with in airports and restaurants.
I’ll also have to begin work with those whose sins mirror mine. To bring my sin and habits out into the open so they can be dealt with in community.
I’m looking forward to it. This will be a much more interesting and challenging way to live.