There is among the Evangelical Christian movement what I call pietistic monasticism. It goes something like this: Jesus is returning one day, this world is not our final resting place, we should just retreat now and hold on until Christ returns.
I see this mentality every day in the arena, from politics to education to business. This tension is nothing new in the Christian world. In fact, I would argue it has been there since the term “Christian” was first coined in the first century.
The fallacy in my mind of this worldview is that we don’t know the hour or the day that Christ will return. He himself told us this.
It could be tomorrow.
It could be a hundred years from now.
In the meantime, we live in a real, everyday world confronted by evil.
Corporately, we as a Body need a new paradigm. Instead of retreating inside the four walls of our homes and churches and making the Gospel “more friendly” to seekers, our vision and action should bold and outward facing. A worldview that is fueled by the view that, as the great missionary Hudson Taylor said so many years ago, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”
So what does this mean in application?
I think it starts with Christians confronting the question: do we still believe in absolute truth? I think more so than ever we must. For society and culture to thrive, the ability to say something is right or wrong must exist. More importantly, there has to be standard outside ourselves, a standard the French philosopher Sarte called an “infinite reference point.”
Here’s where it gets tricky. We live in an world of relativism, where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The infinite has lost its relevance in our finite paradigm and we see this in the world around us.
Do we surrender? No. Do we despair? No.
This is why we fight. This is why we engage the culture around us. This is why more so now than ever there is a need for bold, outspoken, intellectual, practical Christianity that seeks mission fields in all areas of life. All areas of life.
One of my favorite authors, Francis Schaeffer, wrote years ago of this complete Christianity in three concentric circles. The outer is a proper theological position (think belief in a triune God), the second circle is proper intellectual training and an understanding of our generation. The inner circle is the love of God and the devotional attitude toward Him. When all three of these circles work in concert with each other, there will be a renewal of the Church. And when there is a renewal of the Church, there will be a renewal in our culture and the world around us.