This Friday is different.
For those of us living in the El Dorado School District – SCHOOL IS OUT!!!!! Today is the last day until Fall (pray for my wife).
My oldest son (Luke) turned 9 this week and is having a sleepover tonight (pray for my wife).
Not to mention it is Memorial Day weekend – so my family gets me ALL DAY on MONDAY (pray for my wife).
I always love Fridays – but this Friday is AWESOME.
Being that this is a different kind of Friday, I thought I would do things, well, different here today.
I want to quote to you from a book I am reading by Tim Keller. Following the quote I want to pose 5 questions for your consideration. Get the “Five” on “Friday” them? Instead of 5 articles to read – I am giving you 5 questions to “chew on.”
The quote is from chapter 11 of Keller’s fascinating book entitled King’s Cross (this is my 3rd time through it). At the beginning of the chapter, Keller mentions that all the great world religions are still centered where they began . . . except Christianity. Reflecting on an interview with historian Andrew Walls, Keller writes:
“Islam started in Arabia, at Mecca, and the Middle East is still the center of Islam today. Buddhism started in the Far East, and that’s still the center of Buddhism. So too with Hinduism – it began in India and us still predominantly an Indian religion. Christianity is the exception; Christianity’s center is always moving, always on a pilgrimage. . . In the next fifty to seventy years, the center of Christianity is predicted to complete this shift away from European countries and from the United States. It will migrate, as it always migrates.”
That’s amazing in and of itself. But consider this very, very, very powerful paragraph:
“In the interview with Andrew Walls, he was asked ‘Why does this happen? If the centers of other religions remain constant, why does the center of Christianity constantly change?’ Walls replied, ‘One must conclude, I think, that there is a certain vulnerability, a fragility, at the heart of Christianity. You might say that this is the vulnerability of the cross.’ The heart of the Gospel is the cross, and the cross is all about giving up power, pouring out resources, and serving. Walls hinted that when Christianity is in a place of power and wealth for a long period, the radical message of sin and grace and the cross can become muted or even lost. Then Christianity starts to transmute into a nice, safe religion, one that’s for respectable people who try to be good. And eventually it becomes virtually dormant in those places and the center moves somewhere else.”
Read that again. Keller asserts (based on what Andrew Walls has observed from history and the Bible) that when Christianity is in a place of power and wealth for a long period, the radical message of sin and grace and the cross . . . becomes dormant. . . and the center (of Christianity) moves somewhere else.
Wow. I have been wrestling with this paragraph all day today.
5 Questions for you to “chew on” this Memorial Day weekend:
1. Is it just me, or is this a frightening description of Christianity in North America? Why do you think?
2. Is this why we are seeing the Gospel explode in places like China and India? Why do you think?
3. If there’s still hope for biblical Christianity (the “vulnerability of the cross”) to be in the DNA of North America, what will it take?
4. If the center does continue to move away from North America, what does that mean for us who stay here?
5. If God is moving mightily in foreign countries – in the midst of poverty and persecution – what am I doing here? If that’s where God is, then should we not want to join Him?
I would love to read your thoughts. Consider the implications of this, please. And, if you choose, comment below. Or, as always, you can send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.