In the fifth chapter Mike calls for the church to be fully engaged in the world around it. This is not a new or unique call, by any means, but it always bears repeating. The world is broken and this brokenness affects every area of life and in every area there is possibility for the redeemed people of God to bring the light of the Gospel to bear and make a significant difference.
Although it doesn’t use the same language it is a call for churches to embrace serving their communities for the common good.
We must not withdraw from the world around us into a ghetto mentality that leaves the world devoid of the influence of God’s people in politics, business, social enterprise, health and wellbeing, community infrastructure, education and the sciences.
Mike then takes a brief look at how this might look in the areas of business, culture and serving those in need.
Mike insists that serving those in need is not an optional extra, just as being a witness to Christ is not an optional extra.
For me it’s an issue of obedience. Just like ‘believe and be baptised.’ That’s a command! Do I feel like being baptised? Well I might do, I might not do. That’s not the point, it’s a command. Do I feel like working with the poor? Well it depends what day you ask me!
It’s not to do with my inner motivations or emotions, it’s a command. Do I feel like giving my money? Well it depends on what day you ask me! No, I do it out of obedience to God’s commandments: believe and be baptised / do not forget the poor. Just as one shows you are a disciple of Christ (be baptised), the other shows that you have the heart of God and want to represent Him to the world.
The chapter finishes with a wonderful story from the Netherlands of a couple blessed hundreds of refugees. It’s worth reading.
In one sense this chapter is music to my ears. I’ve long had a passion that the church should be creatively engaged in the world around them and that caring for those less fortunate than ourselves is a fundamental way of expressing the love and grace of God.
The strongest part is around the church serving those in need and I think there is more work needed to give life to the sections on business and culture. It’s the tip of the iceberg stuff; you know there’s more.
Serving as we do in a capital city, we see daily the need for Christians and churches to step up and out in serving the city. In Stockholm the church has withdrawn in many ways to the margins but is also beginning to realise that there are great opportunities at the margins of city life to bless people for whom the margins are the place they exist in.