When We Get What We Want
For years evangelicals have been praying for influence in Tinseltown, and now it looks as though we have some. (Or, at least they've figured out that we spend money on more than just Bible covers, Thomas Kinkade paintings and those Darwin-munching Jesus fish.)
Now, the TV network that brought us family-friendly gems such as Married With Children and Temptation Island plans to produce as many as a dozen Christian-themed films a year under a new banner: FoxFaith (foxfaith.com).
The question is: How will we steward this newfound cultural influence? As strange as it sounds, the New Testament gives us no model for leading a culturally dominant church. The context of the 1st- and 2nd-century church was that of oppression, and Paul implies that—at best—there would always be a necessary tension between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man.
So, whether it's on Capitol Hill or in Hollywood, we embrace opportunities for being the church—"in season" and "out of season." But we must make it a point not to depend on the fleeting fads of culture that may give us a platform, because ultimately our message is countercultural, prophetic and scandalous to the core (see 1 Cor. 1:22-24).
The Fall of Islam
Islam will fall. This is not the prediction of a hippy in his "herb garden." This is the conviction of Brother Yun, a leader in the "underground" church in China living in exile in Western Europe. I recently had a chance to meet Yun and was humbled by the vision he shares with millions of Chinese Christians.
Back to Jerusalem (backtojerusalem.com), the movement Yun represents, is committed to taking the gospel across Asia to the heart of the Muslim world in order to complete the mandate of the Great Commission. Not willing to wait until the guns of the West convince radical Muslims that democracy and freedom are superior to oppression, many in the Chinese church believe that God has strategically chosen them to complete a task that has befuddled Western missionaries for centuries.
Yun argues that a religion that offers its sons to die in fiery suicide bomb attacks will only be penetrated by a gospel whose adherents are more willing to die as martyrs at the hands of their persecutors than take up the sword in defense of their faith. Since 1949, when the Cultural Revolution began in China, Christians there have demonstrated their willingness to do so.
"Guns and bombs will not change the Muslim world, but the gospel will," he explains. "Perhaps thousands of Chinese missionaries will die in the evangelization of the Muslim world."
This could be a rude awakening for the Western church, which has sometimes assumed the task of the Great Commission singlehandedly and relied on its satellite broadcasts, Bible translations and tent crusades to get the job done. We can learn from the radical commitment of our Chinese brothers and sisters as they redefine missiology in the 21st century.
To listen to my interview with Brother Yun, visit ministrytodaymag.com or subscribe to the Ministry Today podcast in iTunes.
Matthew Green is editor of Ministry Today.