Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Reading: The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View #7

HarrisWith this post we conclude the read-through of The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View, by Brian Harris. Chapters ten and eleven close the book with an applicational section that gives practical advice on “Clothing the Emperor at Church and Work.” Ten focuses on the church and is entitled, An Ethical Mandate: Hospitality and Openness to the Other; Chapter 11 focuses on practical Christian behavior in the workplace and is entitled “The Big Picture at Work: Faith in the marketplace.” As always, I will be posting some quotes and a link to this post on my Facebook page and you are welcome to discuss the posts there. (The numbers after the quotes are Kindle locations not page numbers).

In chapter 10 Harris insists that the church must shift: “the old paradigm was ‘behave, believe, belong’ but the new is ‘belong, believe, behave’. Since then I have often heard it described as the journey to ‘belong, believe, become’ (3207-3208).” That is the church must practice “hospitality” that allows people to belong before they behave properly, and instructs and moves them toward a deeper belief and understanding of Christ within the community. We will reach more people with “grace and hope” than with “sin and Fall.” We, as a church, also need to have a humility that remembers that we ourselves are sinful and do not know everything about God as we reach out to others. None of us has arrived. We are moving toward Christlikeness together.

We need to find ways to make the hospitable journey away from ‘behave, believe, belong’ to ‘belong, believe, become’. 3232-3233

Jesus appears to have affirmed the importance of acceptance prior to moral change…If Jesus was confident that a genuine experience of grace would lead to transformation, perhaps we should follow his example. 3378-3381

The believing community requires others to ‘belong’ to it, but the community it seeks to win is not sure that those who make the call have ever belonged to their world in a constructive way. Put differently, incarnation must precede any invitation to belong to a new community. 3403-3405

Harris says that we focus so much on what we do at church that we need to think more on what we do on “The Other Six Days.” His thesis seems to be that we need to look at our jobs as incarnational ministry. This means that we need to be people of excellence in our professions who creatively bring our relationship with Christ into our situations. Our “secular work” is just as much ministry and is as important as any church work we do, IF we do it from within our relationship with God in a way that makes its results and personal relationships provide access to Christ through us. This is a big focus in our teaching at PIU.

It is impossible for us to claim to be serious followers of Jesus the Christ and to simultaneously cloister ourselves away in a ghetto of detached irrelevance. Jesus does not walk down that street. We therefore cannot follow him there. 3513-3514

Christians are obligated to excellence because of who God is…We are made for more and should strive to achieve it. We should have an infectious openness to the creative possibilities inherent in God’s good world. 3518-3522

With God’s grace enfolding us, the love of Jesus inspiring us, and the presence of the Holy Spirit empowering us, we dare to hope and dream of eternity, even as in the present we set about building a world with a better name. 3691-3693

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