Sunday, July 23, 2006

Thoughts from the Beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii -- Part 1

For the past week I have been on the Big Island of Hawaii. My wife and I are here for two weeks celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We love the Big Island. It wouldn't be hard to live here. I spent 5+ months here in 1977. Returned in 1986. Introduced my wife and son to the BI in 2002. My son spent 2 months here in 2004 volunteering time with the University of the Nations -- and here we are again in 2006. It is the perfect ending to my sabbatical time (though technically right now I am not on sabbatical, I am on holidays).

My wife and I have done some tourist things, but mostly we have spent time at various beaches, snorkling and reading. I've been reading various books and articles and thought I would share some of the thoughts I've had -- especially from some of the articles I've read.

A New Kind of Urban Christian -- Timothy J. Keller -- Christianity Today (May 2006)

Keller believes that cities are the key to reaching nations. Nothing new here. Let me summarize his key points.

1. More Christians should live long-term in cities. If we don't live in the cities of our nation and the world in at least the percentage of the general population, we will lose our influence on the culture. Christians who live in large cities, and who counter-culturally LIVE their faith can influence the arts, business, academia, publishing, the helping professions and the media in ways that will have an impact on their entire nation. Instead of fleeing to the suburbs or rural areas, or forming Christian ghettos (in actuality or in mindset) Christians should be engaging their culture by working in those areas that have the most power to influence.

2. Christians should be a dynamic counter-culture. Christians are called to be an alternative city within-the-city showing a Kingdom of God culture in how sex (abstinence before marriage and fidelity within), money (radical generosity, helping the poor, treating employees with fairness, justice and generosity) and power (power-sharing and relationship-building between races, social and economic classes and those alienated from society and the Body of Christ) can be used in non-destructive ways.

3. Christians should be a community radically commited to the good of the city as a whole. We must move out to sacrificially serve the good of the whole human community -- especially the poor. Revelation 21-22 make it clear that the ultimate purpose of redemption is not to escape the present material world, but to renew it (all creation groans). God's purpose is not only saving individuals but the world (see A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren) and inaugurating a new world order based on justice, peace and love -- not power, strife and violence and selfishness. Christians should not go to the city in order to get political, economic and social power so they can impose their agenda. Rather, Christians should go to the city to serve the city -- not just our own tribe. We must lose our power to find true power -- what Greg Boyd calls "power-under" in his book The Myth of a Christian Nation. Christianity will not be attractive enough to win influence except through sacrificial service ("power-under" -- doing the Kingdom) to all people regardless of their beliefs. As we do this, we will be misunderstood and sometimes attacked -- but we will gain the respect of those around us -- AS LONG AS we exercise "power-under" rather than "power-over".

4. Christians should be a people who integrate their faith with their work". If we don't integrate our faith, our Biblical worldview and our values into EVERYTHING we do, then we will not influence our culture.

1 comment:

SocietyVs said...

Good post. I tend to agree with the assertion of living where the need is most evident and that usually happens in cities. By need however I refer to actually getting down n dirty and helping the poor.
The middle class didn't need a saviour, the poor did.