The night before he was crucified, Jesus told the remaining disciples that he was leaving this world and he would return. He told them that they would live in a hostile world.
Christians are a remnant. They wrestle with how to live in a world where most people reject Jesus.
They have looked at Scripture and have found four models that have guided them as they live in this world while being citizens of another.
They have lived as monks, prophets, reformers and leaders.
Monks seek to live in this world while not being of it. They seek to live simple, disciplined, focused lives. They prove to the rest of us that we do not need the many things that we think we need. They are powerful even when they live without power. In their focused lives they can accomplish things that their scattered, unreflective friends cannot.
Prophets look around them and are compelled to denounce the evil they see. They often don’t seem to expect to convert many but they see in the Hebrew prophets examples of those who proclaimed God’s message. Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the others serve as examples of God using people to pronounce his verdict on the wrong actions of a society. People may not change but they have been warned.
Christians are called to be salt and light where they live. Reformers are not content and want to change their world. They participate in culture at the highest level and they seek to right the wrongs in the world around them. Christians such as Bach, Durer, Handel, Chesterton and William Booth along with countless others have practiced excellence in the arts and founded school, hospitals and other agencies that have strived for the betterment of their world.
The leader sees Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah as powerful people in an alien world. They see David, Josiah and other godly leaders among the Jews as examples of those who wielded power for good. Christians can wield power for good and should not shrink from doing so. Luther wrote to the German nobility to call them to action and Walter Hilton advised a feudal lord how to fulfill his role as a godly leader. Someone must be in power and it is best if those in power seek to lead in a godly way.
Some pit these models against each other and pronounce one of them as the model for all Christians.
Some see more than one of these models playing out in their lives.
The Christian community needs all of these perspectives in our churches.
Those who live a simple life, show us that we don’t need every toy, every possible dollar, every ounce of power, possession, and influence to live effective lives. There is evil in our world and voices in the Christian community need to denounce grotesque evil in our culture. Our world needs those who will get dirty and show God’s love to a world that cannot understand why they do what they do. Society needs leaders and some of God’s people need to seek and exercise these roles while being led by God’s indwelling Spirit.
Which calling do you see in your life?
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