Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Living as Resurrected People in a Challenging age

Sometimes you think the headline is a joke. The headline read “Christians banned simply for being Christian”. The article from Australia, went on to talk about how the University of Sydney Union for students had given the Evangelical Union two weeks to change its constitution to allow non-Christians to be members, or face deregistration. Basically, this is saying that the equivalent of Intervarsity or Navigators must stop asking that the members or officers to be Christians (could you imagine how that would go down if a school asked the local atheist club to stop asking that its members- not those coming to the meetings- the members and officers, don't have to be atheists?).

The whole request, and many more like it that we see here in the United States, are somewhat absurd, but they are just one part of a larger story, the story of the increasing marginalization of Christianity in the modern western. Christianity one lived at the center of the Western culture. It founded Modern Western Civilization as it exists today. The beliefs and ideas of Christianity provided the intellectual framework that undergird Modern Western civilization, and because of that, its institutions and leaders were looked at and revered. And yet, for a variety of reasons, Christianity, and Christians with it, find ourselves not at the center of the culture, but on the outside looking in, feeling like exiles in our own homeland. And the question is, “how we will then live?” As people called by the gospel for the glory of God, as people called to live as “Aliens and strangers”, people whose citizenship is “kept in heaven for you”, people who are equipped and sent out by the fact that Christ rose, how will we then live? How will we live when we are not the majority living in the promised land, but the exiles in Babylon and the diaspora, spread out in a land not our own (or our own any longer)? How do we live, when we’re not the majority, but the minority, and worse yet, part of a hated minority?

The Scriptures are rife with resources to answer this question. They tell of Esther, a young women in a foreign land, being called to be the queen of Persia. They tell us of Daniel, the righteous young man who is called to serve the empire who has conquered his homeland. They tell us of God’s word to the exiles through the pen of Jeremiah, and more than that, they show us how the early church, pressed by Jewish religious leaders on the one hand, and the Rome on the other hand, pushed out into the world, and loved and served and blessed the world, even as they lived as exiles.

Over the next few months, we’re going to explore what it means to live as the minority for glory of God as we continue to think about what it means to be aligned by orthodoxy, as a church and the people of God. We’re going to do this, by looking specifically at the Jeremiah 29, the first half of Daniel, and by ranging through the Bible from there as we think about the call of God to us.

And what we will see, is not the approach of hiding in the shadows, as people who felt like they had drained the cup of bitterness to the dregs and now just wanted to curl up and protect themselves, but a people who were out, living and engaging the world around with gusto for the glory of God.

We live in tumultuous times. There may have never been a more challenging time in this country’s history to be a Christian, but we have been called, like Esther, for “such a time as this” I’m looking forward to this series, and to exploring with you the question of how do we live not as the majority but the minority, for the glory of God.

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