One of the exhortations that can never be issued to the evangelical world too often is that Christians must learn to think, and to think biblically. Of course, not only is such a dynamic demanded by virtue of our allegiance to Christ, but right thinking produces right living, gives weight to our witness, and glorifies God. And yet, the sad truth is that too many who name the Name of Christ are not only failing to think biblically in connection with their own spiritual walk before God, but they are failing to do so in such a way that not only are they unable to engage our pluralistic culture for Christ, but they are actually given to embracing cultural, worldly, wisdom. How can we expect to impact not only our culture but the nations if we cannot or will not think biblically? How can we have eternal impact in the lives of others if we fail at this very point?
These issues are on my mind almost constantly and God’s providence is not lost on me as they’ve been brought to my attention once again in the context of some work our church is doing at Boston Baptist College in Boston Massachusetts. Boston has more universities than any other city in the United States and is a world renowned cultural center for that reason and many others. In the midst of the Boston culture of liberalism, multi-cuturalism, elitism, and worldly power, I was once again confronted with my (and indeed all Christians) raison d’etre: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. How to live it out is always the question and that question takes on new dimensions in the midst of a pluralistic and powerful culture. The mission statement of the aforementioned college provides a properly oriented guide: "Think Biblically, Discover Globally, and Impact Eternally." Let me offer some brief observations under each of these headings.
First, Christians must think biblically. We live in a culture committed to thinking that is independent from God. The reality is that all knowledge and thinking is dependent on God for in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). But this fact did not stop Satan from deceiving Eve into believing that she could “know good and evil” and “be as God.” She believed that she could know truth apart from God even as do all lost people.
A practical upshot of such a dynamic is what Michael Kissel, student at Boston Baptist and church planter, points out in regard to the mindset of our culture: it is committed to thinking about self. Further, the focal point of our thinking must not be ourselves but God if we are to see the world rightly. He goes on to note that the first question to ask in terms of this world and our service in it is not “What would Jesus do” but “How does God see this?” Only when we are committed to thinking that is dependent on God and to getting His perspective will we glorify Him and truly serve others.
Second, Christians must discover globally. God has given us a special and potentially saving revelation of Himself through the Scriptures. He has also given us a general revelation of Himself though creation, conscience, history, culture, etc. The believer can see the glory of God on display in these things to a certain degree by virtue of a renewed mind. Part of what it means to think biblically is not only to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) by virtue of a submission to God’s special revelation, but to investigate God’s ways in the world through the lens of that special revelation.
Christians who are committed to discovering globally are world Christians. As Joe Sawyer, Financial Aid Officer and Communications Director at Boston Baptist points out, through world study via travel or other means, one obtains a world perspective. Kissel explains that one gets a sense of the world, oneself in the larger world, and what God is doing in His world. He avers that misconceptions of the world are stripped away as one experiences it first hand in light of God’s redemptive purpose. Misconceptions about self are stripped away as the larger issue of human sin is highlighted in the historical context of suffering, war, and brutality. That dynamic is brought to bear upon one’s own sinfulness and the result is a fresh recognition that each one of us needs the Redeemer.
Standing in front of the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, my thought was that we must not let the scourge of abortion in America horrify us any less than the scourge of Nazi tyranny in Germany. Talking with Kissel and Sawyer about global discovery before God, my thought was that I must not let the scourge of my own sinful heart horrify me any less than the referenced brutality in our world. There but for the grace of God go I.
In the wake of such discovery combined with a fresh understanding of the apostle Paul’s world, for example, as one visits Ephesus, Corinth, or Rome, etc., there is new boldness for Christian witness. As Sawyer noted, one cannot help but be impacted for the better when he comes face to face with the Roman or Greek pantheon, the cultural and power centers, the urban settings, and indeed the kings in the midst of which Paul stood to proclaim Christ as the only way to salvation. He further noted that we need not be so intimidated by Boston any more knowing that we have the truth.
Third, Christians must impact eternally. The faithful would agree with that assertion, but the real question is, “what does it mean to have eternal impact?” As Sawyer and Kissel point out, it means living for God’s glory. It means being ministers of God’s grace in every moment. One can minister grace to the waitress who does not deserve it because she had a rough night and rendered poor service. A tip and a thank you in the name of Christ can go a long way to open the door for future conversation about the things of God. Kissel cited Francis Schaeffer who noted that we are always having an eternal impact: we are either sowing life or we are sowing death. We are impacting someone somehow for eternity with each exchange. Which will it be for you?
Pluralism is alive and well in Boston. Pluralism is alive and well in your city. Are you thinking biblically, that you might discover globally, that you might impact eternally? Be God-centered, be a world-Christian, and be one who has eternal impact in every moment.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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