Christian Faithful Presence in the Culture

Christian Faithful Presence in the Culture May 10, 2013


If Christians are to be “missional,” then we must take seriously that our work, as a calling from God, is kingdom work. As such, it is like leaven that is mixed into the culture (Matthew 13:33), wherever we work and whatever we do. This “makes possible (the) renewal of each creational area from within, not without.” (Al Wolters, Creation Regained)

James Davison Hunter, in his influential book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, calls this “Faithful Presence.”

According to Hunter, Christians are called to be

 “fully present and committed in their spheres of social influence, whatever they may be: their families, neighborhoods, voluntary activities, and places of work…to create conditions in the structures of social life we inhabit that are conducive to the flourishing of all.” (p. 247)

This “flourishing” is the Shalom that I have written about elsewhere here at (re)integrate. It is the way things are meant to be – “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight” (as Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. defines it in his book, Engaging God’s World).

Hunter says,

“Faithful presence in our spheres of influence does not imply passive conformity to the established structures. Rather, within the dialectic between affirmation and antithesis, faithful presence means a constructive resistance that seeks new patterns of social organizations that challenge, undermine, and otherwise diminish oppression, injustice, enmity, and corruption and, in turn, encourage harmony, faithfulness and abundance, wholeness, beauty, joy, security, and well-being.” (pp. 247-8.)

What Hunter is advocating is for Christians, through our vocations, to act in subversive ways in order to bring God’s kingdom to bear upon the fallen world, “for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).

How are you being a “faithful presence” in your vocation? How does your industry, community, workspace, relationships, product, suppliers, clients, etc. experience a taste of God’s kingdom so that shalom is experienced in ever increasing ways? What injustices, corruptions, oppressions or enmities are you actively engaged in subverting? How are you encouraging harmony, faithfulness, abundance, wholeness, beauty, joy, security, and well-being?

Image by GollyGforce. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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