ADVERTISING
 
Saturday, November 16   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Philip S. Powell
 

Wisdom cries out in the public square

The danger facing Christians today is becoming truly trapped by the logic of immediatism. We are called to play the long-game, because church history tells us that God’s truth will outlast and outshine man’s ignorance.

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTHOR Philip S. Powell 29 APRIL 2019 16:40 h GMT+1
Photo: Ryoji Iwata (Unsplash, CC0)

Christians in the West seem to really struggle to articulate, commend and defend the Bible’s perspective on the big issues affecting society. Sadly, we either privatise our faith to Sunday morning — divorced from the harsh realities of economics and politics — or, as some are trying to do, politicise our faith by seeking to dominate the totality of public life.



Even if we reject these two extreme positions, as Christians we still seem to struggle to know how to speak with authority and clarity in the public square. This may be because we feel that our intellectual foundations are no longer as strong as they once seemed, and that what we do communicate is dismissed or drowned out by the cacophony of noises in the public square.



There is simply no expectation that Christians will provide thought leadership for determining the direction of where society is heading. The secular viewpoint now has the upper hand, because it can make arguments and assertions without any reference to transcendent or theological standpoints. And even though ‘secular reason’ is self-referential and circular, it dominates public discourse, while anyone who defends divine revelation and religious dogma is dismissed as unscientific and intellectually backward.



Christians feel like we are fighting a losing battle as the minds and hearts of people in our society are shaped and guided by everything other than what is written in the Bible — despite the fact that we cannot properly understand the story of the West without the biblical text. This is the state of affairs today, and we must face it head-on without giving in to despair or taking short-cuts for easy victory. How, then, do we move forward?



Let me suggest four points of wisdom. These do not directly address how Christians should think about particular ethical or political issues. Rather, they enable Christians to live well in the the present crisis and communicate God’s truth in the public square — despite the opposition and intimidation we might face.



1. Fear of God



The first and most important thing for the Christian, no matter where they stand in history or what might be happening in society, is the fear of God. The Bible says: ‘The fear of God is beginning of wisdom.’ (Proverbs 9:10) Without the fear of God there can be no wisdom. And without wisdom we perish. A man or woman who truly fears God has nothing else to fear. We are set free from every other kind of fear, including the fear of the future. The fear of God means that in the inner sanctum of our soul we have a deep sense of reverence for God, a longing to do what is right in his eyes and a willingness to trust him no matter what. Only then can we channel God’s wisdom for the challenging ethical and political issues in our times. It’s not about age or experience, but about the condition and orientation of our hearts.



2. Embodied witness



There is no substitute for the lived social reality of the gospel in a particular locality. Words matter, but they can only have credibility if these words are proved true in the lives of real people. Talk without walk is like salt that has lost its saltiness, it deserves to be trampled upon (Matthew 5:13). It is one things to talk about God as Trinity who cares about relationships, but communities of believers become clanging noise if they fail to live in right relationship — loving and forgiving each other despite challenges. Christians can only communicate what they actually live. Otherwise there is a credibility gap which undermines our confidence and witness. Disembodied words can do a lot of damage, and the people can smell religious hypocrites from a mile away.



3. Listening to both sides



The art of listening well to what others are actually saying is an act of love. Misrepresenting what others are saying or deliberately twisting another’s viewpoint is wrong. Christians must be committed to listening to the voices of those on the other side, including the ones who oppose us. In this way we avoid the dangers of being one-sided and partisan. Proverbs 18:17 says, ‘the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines.’ A wise person will act in an even-handed way and not rush to conclusions but be willing to listen to multiple perspectives on an issue before making a judgement. This is important during times of crisis when there is real temptation to be strident and confrontational. But through listening we can be bridge-builders across division, which is a powerful sign of God at work in our midst.



4. Playing the long game



We need to be strategic and make calculations not just for short-term victory, but to achieve long-term goals. The danger facing Christians today is becoming truly trapped by the logic of immediatism. We judge and decide everything based on what we see in the here and now, without any sense of historical perspective. We rush to take immediate action to solve ‘this or that’ social problem as quickly as possible. But change for its own sake (and especially revolutionary change) leaves a trail of havoc. While we reject complacency and passivity, we must also be critical of immediatism, because it leads to all kinds of foolish action. Christians instead must work to bring about slow, inside-out, bottom-up change that is sustainable over a long period of time and across generations. This means that we understand success very differently. Just like Jesus, who refused to worship the devil to achieve the world’s wealth, we refuse to use worldly methods to achieve Kingdom success. We play the long-game, because church history tells us that God’s truth will outlast and outshine man’s ignorance and folly.



This calls for patience and perseverance on our part, and then we leave final outcomes to God’s providence.



Philip S. Powell manages the Learning Community of the Jubilee Centre.



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Wisdom cries out in the public square
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us? How can we encourage believers to serve Jesus with us?

“It is not just pastors who do ministry. When the saints are doing the ministry too, the Body of Christ is build up and grows towards maturity in the faith”, says Greg Ogden, Chairman Global Discipleship Initiative.

 
Algerian Christians worship God as police arrives to close church Algerian Christians worship God as police arrives to close church

Video of the moment police officers enter a Protestant evangelical church near Tizi-Ouzou to close it. Church members do not stop singing, and peacefully resist later.

 
Porn exploits victims of human trafficking Porn exploits victims of human trafficking

The European Freedom Network launches a new anti-trafficking campaign: “You have no way of knowing if the porn you are looking at is from someone who chose to be there or not”.

 

 

 
A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees

Thousands still cross the border to Colombia every week, and many continue on foot into the interior. Christian young people have set up an aid station along the road.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.