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October 28, 2007

Reflection for the Week- October 28th

Sometimes we sense a loss of contact with God. We grope around in darkness longing for light and wander through the wilderness thirsting for a cup of water. When this happens we need to cling to God and his promises, to the truth that we are not on our own, and to the reality that we have a destiny of being transformed into the image of Christ.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery

October 21, 2007

Reflection for the Week - October 21st

Praise God for who he is and for what he has done, is doing and will do - for his mission through creation, Israel and the Christ to renew and redeem humanity and the world.

Dr. Gregory J. Laughery 

 

October 20, 2007

Real Grace

One of my recent suggestions in my book Living Spirituality for reading Scripture was that we develop wise and Spirit-fired reading habits. I think we need to be more intentional about and actively aware of the significant dangers of misreading the text. Efforts to counter this, combined with better readings, will help transform our communities and churches, while inspiring a more faithful and fitting embodiment of Scripture, which can then be lived out into the world. The magnitude of this could have a profound impact on highlighting and affirming God’s missional purposes in reconciling the world to himself in Christ. Here’s the text I’d like you to consider. Read it carefully, and if you have time read the whole letter.

First this: Key points of 2 Corinthians 7


The stage then is now set for the second major part of this letter. As readers we have received another glimpse into the complex context of Paul and the Corinthians and the theological and personal concerns related to them. Hopefully, this perspective will help us to better understand this letter and in so doing to refocus our attention on the real gems that it offers us in a diversity of ways. In closing let me just point you to a few of these:
 

1) Conflict in relationships – how to view the other is important, especially in the Christian community – the truth of the gospel is at stake.


2) Struggles and difficulties in our lives are not ends in and of themselves. God is the God of all comfort.


3) Dangers of bringing the truth of the gospel into question should cause us to reflect carefully on our actions.


4) Godly grief leads to repentance and repentance leads to salvation and salvation to God – Salvation and God are the referents of repentance, which lead us into community with God and each other.


5) God is at work in our lives and this should make us aware of many things, including the importance of justice.


6) Where do our own loyalties lie? How are we to practice a hermeneutics of trust and suspicion in life giving ways that represent the gospel?

2 Corinthians 8: 1-15


1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.


2 Out of the most severe affliction, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.


3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,


4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.


5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.


6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.


7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.


8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.


13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."

 

8:1-7

In chapter 8 Paul is going to revisit, via Macedonia, the matter of the collection for the Jerusalem church, which he already mentioned back in 1 Cor. 16. This collection had been initiated, but not yet completed and therefore he wants to raise the subject again in anticipation of the return of Titus to Corinth . However, this is not Paul’s only concern here. He also targets the centrality of grace and gives it a careful exposition in chapters 8-9.

            In verse 1 it is clear that we enter new territory. Paul first of all wants his readers to know something of the grace of God toward the Macedonian churches. This grace relates, as verse 2 points out, to overflowing joy in the midst of affliction and the riches of their focused generosity. Normally, Paul uses the more specific word “charis” or “charisma” for a gifting/grace of this type, which is often connected with something received, but here he refers to overflowing joy and overflowing generosity. God’s grace has been given, and in Paul’s context continues to be given, which results in an overflowing joy and in the Macedonians’ unprecedented generosity. Perhaps this quite unusual concept, the reciprocity of grace received and generosity given is something we would do well to think more and better about. Could it be that there is a place for God's grace to us being revealed through our grace; in this case, our generosity to the other?

            Notice the context of the Macedonian churches, which Paul no doubt uses to serve as an example to the Corinthian church. Their generosity is shown in the midst of severe affliction, which may have been due to Roman possession of their land and material wealth. Yet, out of overflowing joy and the depth of their poverty they were able to manifest God’s grace. It is likely that in comparison to the Corinthian church, the Macedonian churches were fairly poor, but what counts for the apostle here is their attitude and spirit, not necessarily the quantity of what is offered.

            Paul will now explain this in verses 3-4. He writes that these Christians have given far beyond their own ability and in an unsolicited manner. God’s grace in these churches is manifested in their sacrificial care for the other. Not only in their case was this sacrifice not requested, but they actually appealed to have the privilege of participating in a collection for the saints in Jerusalem who were more poverty stricken than themselves.

            The Macedonians’ giving went far beyond expectation, as verse 5 goes on to point out. It originated and culminated in their giving themselves to the Lord and also to the apostle through God’s will. Perhaps Paul has at least two points here. First, he is aiming to defuse any Corinthian plot in regard to the accusation that he is only after their money. Second, he is implying that the Macedonian churches recognized his God-given apostleship and authority, both of which are validated in his serving others for Jesus’ sake (4:5).

            In verse 6 Paul moves more directly to the matter at hand. Titus will return to Corinth . As a result of the unanticipated interest in the collection by the Macedonian churches Titus is going to seek to bring the “act of grace” which had begun in Corinth to its completion.

            With verse 7 Paul draws this section to a close. He directly challenges the church in Corinth to bring to completion the grace of giving, which in this specific case is the collection for the impoverished in Jerusalem . As the church in Corinth was notably known for its manifestation of certain other spiritual gifts, Paul here picks up the verb “overflow” from verse 2 and lists a number of graces the Corinthians do overflow in. If this is the case, should they not also overflow in the grace of giving?

            The church in Corinth may have had a problem with a focus on the other, perhaps both within and outside its own community context. No doubt there were strengths in the church, but this seems to be a glaring weakness, which may have been due to an insufficient understanding of grace. Grace is not only to be received for oneself, but it is to be given to the other.

 

8:8-15

 

Paul’s exhortation is quickly followed in verse 8 by a sort of disclaimer. He is not commanding this of the Corinthians, as it is unlikely that he had received any such command from the Risen One. He rather wants to know where the level of their love stands with respect to that of the Macedonians.

            In this context, the apostle again returns to the wonderful reality of interchange in verse 9. He has already written of this back in 5:21 (read this). No doubt the aim here with this use of metaphors is to heighten and sharpen the understanding of grace, while also addressing the matter at hand. But how does this work out? The model of grace that the Corinthians know of is the Lord Jesus Christ. What they may not have realized is the analogy between this grace and the grace of giving to others. As Christ has become something that he is not so that they might become something they are not, he takes their place in order that they might be graced with his. So too, grace has to do with not only receiving, but giving. Again, perhaps this is a new configuration of grace for us. It may be appropriate to say it this way: grace is for passing on, but we should stress that its passing on must be rooted in it first being received. In other words, passing on grace is not merely based on performance, but on reception which is the referent for its being passed on. The life and work of Christ are “other” focused so that those who receive it might move from being self centered towards being Other and others centered. This other centered capacity in turn will affirm the truth of receivers being new selves. The perception of interchange then functions on at least two levels: first, Christ and only Christ can stand for us. The one who was rich becomes poor so that others might receive grace. Second, those who receive this unique grace may then pass it on to another. Grace received is then refigured through grace given. As this grace has been given to them the Corinthians should carefully consider the grace of giving to the other in need.

            In verses 10-12, following the metaphorical power of verse 9, Paul moves into giving his advice to the Corinthians more directly. Remember, he has done a similar thing on another issue back in 1 Cor. 7. This advice is what he understands to be the most helpful for them. He looks back in time in order to remind the Corinthians that it would be most helpful for them if there was a greater symmetry between their wanting and their doing.

            It is true that they were “not only” the first to start a collection for others, “but also” wanted to accomplish this. However, what had broken down was the doing part of the reality. The Corinthians wanted to initiate something, yet perhaps as many of us, the actual doing of this is where configured grace – the grace we’ve received never becomes refigured in our own lives in being passed on to the other. Wanting the right things is admirable; however this commendable desire must reach the other in actual doing. The Corinthians’ willingness, their voluntary response to a need was there, but this now must translate into action that accomplishes something in the world.

            Notice that this completed action, from Paul's perspective, is related to the capacity that this church has. They are being encouraged to go ahead and do what they said they would within the context of what is possible. What is most important here is the attitude of giving, which is in turn what makes it acceptable before God.

            In verses 13-14 Paul shifts direction somewhat. With another explanatory “for” flowing from the assurance that he is not encouraging the Corinthian believer to give what he or she does not have, Paul anticipates another question or concern.

            Would it be appropriate if the one profits at the other’s expense? He is not suggesting, in this context, that some be in poverty, while the others are taking advantage. What he aims at is equality. But what does Paul have in mind here? Perhaps, in looking ahead, his point is that the Corinthians will receive the fellowship and prayers of the saints as 9:14 states, and that if circumstances were reversed, they also would benefit from aid of a similar type. Verse 15 brings the section to a close with a quote from Exodus 16:18. The principle in this passage is that those who had a considerable amount had none left over and those who had less had enough. As God was concerned with equality during Israel 's wilderness period, Paul now stresses its ongoing relevance at the present time.

           

In conclusion here are a few things to think more and better about.
 

1) It is essential for us to understand and live out the reality that God's grace expresses itself in both being received and also in being given. This expression is rooted in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the reality of interchange between us and him, which takes place as a result of it. In turn this reality brings about an attitude of overflowing joy leading to the grace of generosity towards others. What kind of world makes this interchange possible? What kind of world makes it possible to give as much as one is able, even beyond one's ability? What kind of world allows one to overflow in the grace of giving and to actually do grace? The world of the biblical text is the only one that both configures these truths, while at the same time opening possibilities for us to take part in this world, and as we do so, to have our lives refigured through participating in receiving and giving God’s grace.

2) Paul’s advice is that there be a greater symmetry in the lives of Christians between wanting and doing. A practical following through with grace is the one the piercing marks of a new self who participates in the interchange that the Lord Jesus Christ has brought about.

3) Equality in graces is to be an essential reality in the Christian community as it lives its faith out into the world.

October 14, 2007

Reflection for the Week- October 14th

In the theater of life let’s aim for a focus on mission, living spirituality, truth, honesty, community with God and each other, concern for the poor, the environment, culture, the arts, and the authenticity of redemption. A fitting performance counts, and we all have an important role to play.

Dr Gregory J. Laughery

 

October 07, 2007

Reflection for the Week- October 1st

There are plenty of ungracious attitudes around and we all make mistakes, sin, and are in need of redemption. Thank God for Christ. Embrace grace and then give it away today in generosity. God’s grace comes to us superabundantly and freely. Let’s offer it to others in overflowing joy.

 Dr Gregory J. Laughery

 

October 03, 2007

Unequally Yoked?

Copyright 2007: Dr Gregory J. Laughery

One of my recent suggestions in my book Living Spirituality for reading Scripture was that we develop wise and Spirit-fired reading habits. I think we need to be more intentional about and actively aware of the significant dangers of misreading the text. Efforts to counter this, combined with better readings, will help transform our communities and churches, while inspiring a more faithful and fitting embodiment of Scripture, which can then be lived out into the world. The magnitude of this in turn could have a profound impact on highlighting and affirming God’s missional purposes in reconciling the world to himself in Christ. Let’s give the reading of a controversial text a go. Here’s the text I’d like you to consider. Read it carefully and if you have time read what comes before in this letter.
 
2 Corinthians 6:1-7:1

 1 As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2For he says,
   "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.


Paul's Hardships

 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Do Not Be Yoked With Unbelievers

 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
 17 "Therefore come out from them
      and be separate, says the Lord.
      Touch no unclean thing,
      and I will receive you."
 18 "I will be a Father to you,
      and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.




6:1-10

In our first section, Paul now moves on from those in Christ being a new creation, and the claim that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ (5:11-21), to a more direct address to his readers in verses 1-2.

          
Notice that the apostle, in the previous section, has written that he is an ambassador of Christ and it is as such that he implores the Corinthians to be reconciled to God. The gateway into community with God is Christ, and this is the first step, for us, in participating in God’s gracious purpose to reconcile the world to himself. As it is so wonderfully put in 5:21; it is God who made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that we become the righteousness of God. Imagine and reflect on that for a moment – being the righteousness of God in Christ is truly a marvel and a direct result of reconciliation. Righteousness, in this context, might be said to conflate the actions of love and justice – that hyper delicate dialogue which situates the lives we live as Christians on a tightrope, where we have the marked tendency to fall off on one side or the other, God forgive us. Yet Christ is able to maintain the balance perfectly, and to do so with us on his shoulders.

          
Paul is going to build on being ambassadors of Christ, the very thing that some in Corinth may have been suspicious of (read chapters 1-5), making an appeal in chapter 6. First of all it is pointed out in 6:1 that he is working together with God. Next, following on from 5:20, he appeals to his readers directly with “you.”

          
The appeal is not to have received God's grace in vain. How might this be happening? Possibly, it was taking place in at least two ways: first, being lured away from the gospel by an imitation, perhaps something too focused on some form of external performance and not enough on inward change that brings forth a “real” and “transformative” modification of one's actions. Second, God's grace is likely, in this context, to be related to Paul working with God on behalf of the Corinthians. They are at risk of rejecting God's grace as it manifests itself in Paul's preaching of the gospel. To reject Paul's apostolic word is to entertain the danger of rejecting the gospel itself.

          
In verse 2 Paul cites Isa. 49:8 and applies it to his present context. He announces that "now" is salvation time and as such there is a need to pay attention to God's reconciling activities that have been unleashed in Christ, and to not have received his grace in vain. God's is a missional God who is reconciling the world to himself in Christ and no longer counting peoples' sins against them. This salvific trajectory has been set in motion, and Paul as an ambassador of Christ, longs for his readers to recognize God's saving purposes and to bring their actions into line with that which is happening “now” in salvation time.

          
In the next verses, 3-10, Paul writes of a number of troubles, nine of them, a number of graces, eight of them, and a number of antitheses, ten of them. This is another attempt in the letter to show that the new covenant ministry has not manipulated or defrauded anyone. No one has legitimate cause to stumble or turn away towards another gospel. On the contrary, Paul has done all he could to not be a target of criticism as this may have reflected on the apostolic ministry that was so central to the truth of what God was doing in Christ.

 
But what shall we do with verses 4b and following where the apostle launches into a double commendation. It is worth again remembering the literary context into which he writes. Is he now contradicting himself in regard to what he has already written in 3:1 and 5:12?

          
No doubt, as we have already seen, new covenant ambassadors and especially Paul’s apostleship, as far as the Corinthians were concerned, was highly dubious and considerably suspect. There were those who saw his difficulties as inappropriate for one who claimed to be an apostle of the risen and glorified One. Paul remember is facing character criticism on the one hand and action criticism on the other. But we must recall that related to these forms of criticism, at least as Paul has it, is the danger of critiquing the gospel itself.

          
Into this context he now writes that it is possible to see the apostolic ministry being proclaimed by servants of God, which notice is not found in 3:1 or 5:12, in two equally commendable ways. A true apostle is commended for great endurance in the midst of adversity and for displaying the power of God in spite of dire circumstances. Paul was oppressed and opposed, but also faced more voluntary hardship because of the nature of his ministry moving him place to place so frequently and the choice not to burden others for his support.

 
Yet dealing with such adversity in great endurance is only part of the apostolic picture. Paul goes on in verse 6b to write that by the Spirit and the power of God he displays an unhypocritical love and he proclaims the word of truth in kindness and patience with understanding and integrity. In this context, the model of apostolic ministry is the crucified and risen One.

          
This goes on to further and is expressed in a number of “as if” and “yet” contrasts beginning in verse 8c. All of these could be said to mark apostolic ministry. The contrasts show what so often tends to be a human perspective (likely here to be that of the Corinthians), versus a Godly one in regard to the apostolic mission.

 
6:11-13

In the next three verses 11, 12 and 13, the suffering, yet victorious apostle again addresses the issue of his community with Corinthians directly. What he has proclaimed to them continues to speak. It is a saturated word that is not silenced. An open mouth also relates to an open heart. Paul's “open wide” heart is likely to refer to his community with the Corinthians, including his visits and his letters, as well as his present desire to fight to hold onto the relationship and make a future visit.

          
Paul makes his affection for them clear and that at this time of writing it was not reciprocal. In spite of some of the accusations against him, he wants the Corinthians to know his feelings.

          
The apostle completes his thought with the appeal for fair exchange, one open wide heart for another. He is still willing, still longing for a deep community with the Corinthians. As he is their father in the gospel he addresses them as his children to again reinforce the relationship they already have through his preaching and their reception of the gospel. Paul's appeal to them is to recognize the gravity of their situation and the value of what they have together in Christ through the reconciling power of God. He is concerned for both their common affection and their common righteousness.

 
6:14-7:1

The last section is found in 6:14 to 7:1. The long defense of the credibility of the apostolic mission, and especially of Paul as an ambassador of Christ, which begun back at 2:14 with all its power and penetrating theology, now comes to a crescendo. Two questions can be posed: first, why does Paul end it in this manner? Second, what is the literary, historico-cultural and theological context? The ending seems to be focused on an actual situation in Corinth that needs to be addressed. I doubt that this section is addressing some general problem which amounts to something like the Corinthians hanging out with unbelievers.

          
From a literary point of view Paul constructs these verses upon that which he has previously written, especially verses 11-13, and they should be understood on this basis. He has just reminded his readers about the importance of being reconciled to God, emphasizing that “now” was salvation time, yet in addition he has underscored his ongoing affection for them asking them to have open wide hearts towards him, as he does towards them.

 
Historico-culturally we are well aware, from numerous sources including 1 Corinthians, that there was a proliferation of pagan temples in Corinth . They were literally all over the place. This seems to have been a constant threat to the believing community in the city.
          

Theologically, what Paul is getting at here is nothing short of radical. It is impossible, from his point of view, to consider God and idols as having anything theologically in common. There is a vast and unbridgeable asymmetry here. Idolatry, if we think more and better about it, stretches from the present a long way back in time. This particular expression of it in Corinth is theologically, as all the rest, a misconception of the truth of God.
          

The conclusion begins with the famous and much discussed verse 14a. Many believers today establish their view of relations with unbelievers or marrying an unbeliever on this verse. But before making too much out of this and ending up with a wrong-headed way of handling and interpreting the Biblical text, let’s look at it carefully. Paul uses a metaphor from Lev. 19:19 concerning the cross breeding of animals and Dt. 22:10 which prohibits the yoking together of an ox and a mule for plowing. The point of this is to show there is a difference between believers and unbelievers. If this is the case, a believer is to be rightly concerned about what this might mean. It is important to recall that Paul does not forbid social contact with unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:9-10; 10:27) or staying married to one (1 Cor. 7:12-14).
          

What then does it mean to be yoked together with unbelievers and that believers are not to do this? The following verses, I think, put the matter in perspective.

          
In verses 14b-16a, there are five rhetorical questions which express an asymmetry. He begins with “for” in verse 14b and after the questions concludes with another “for” in 16b. The asymmetry is evident in each of the things that Paul writes. But what is he getting at? It seems he is targeting the problematic of participation in pagan temple activity and wanting to accentuate that believers and unbelievers are not to be related to each other at this level. The total incompatibility on this register is expressed in the climactic question of verse 16a, “what union is there between the temple of God and idols?”

          
In verse 16b Paul makes it clear. He again begins with “for” affirming that believers are the temple of the living, note, living God. The God of believers is not a lifeless figure who resides in a lifeless building, but a God who is animate, dwelling with his people and in their presence. Corinth , as the Rome , Zurich , New York , London , Seoul , or Sydney of today held out many opportunities for a believer to be defeated. The Corinthians are on the border line of being swallowed by and into their culture of idolatry.

          
Paul assures believers with verse 16c which makes an allusion to Lev. 26:11-12. God has promised to live with his people, to be among them, to be their God and they will be his people. This promise, Paul agrees, is now fulfilled and should have a present impact on believers association with unbelievers concerning the cultural temples of idolatry.

          
This assurance is followed by a direct imperative and two more promises, which come from the Old Testament. Isa. 52:11 had addressed Israel during their time of exile to the Babylonians. Recall that the battle of not only succumbing to a foreign power, but also to its gods, understood as idols, rages throughout Isaiah. The command to come out and be separate touching nothing unclean now is applied to believers who are in danger of compromising their belief by participating in idolatry, specifically in this context, in the form of pagan temple activity.

          
The first promise comes from Ezk. 20:34 to show that God will indeed receive his people as they separate themselves from the devastating influences of foreign gods and foreign people. The second promise is adapted from 2 Sam. 7:14 and Isa. 43:6 and affirms that God is a father to them, a father in the best sense of that reality. Believers are his sons and daughters in that through Christ they are in new covenant community with Him.

          
Finally, in 7:1 we have a sensitive appeal in the form of an exhortation on the whole matter. Because of the present reality of having God’s promises, believers are to, as we have it here in temple ritual language, be pure, exiled from what defiles, both in body and spirit.

 
The result is a moving towards being a temple that is holy, which will not take place should believers be so carried away by their cultural quasi religious and spiritual contexts that they lose the reality of what and who they are to be in the first place. Being God's temple incites believers to a proper sense of action and being in community with God in the light of who he is, and to whom they belong.

          
Where does all this leave us? How are we to understand this passage for ourselves today? I hope we already have some idea of how to respond to these questions. Our actions are important. How we live as followers of the crucified and risen one is important. We are God’s temple and in some sense a visible representation of his presence in our lives and in the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility.

 
What verses 14 and following have given us, if my exegesis is better than worse, is that believers should not associate with unbelievers in pagan temple activity connected to idolatry. Today we face and live in cultures saturated with idolatry in a wide diversity of forms: alcohol, drugs, money, possessions, sex, spiritualities, and so forth. All believers should be on common ground in aiming to not participate with unbelievers, or perhaps considering our own context, with believers who indulge in such forms of idol worship. In other words, there are some black and white’s.

 
But there is also another level, which verses 14 and following don’t give us, but that Paul has written of elsewhere. As I have said, he does not exclude social and even post-marital contact with unbelievers. Take for example the whole apostolic mission. Paul and other apostles spent massive amounts of time, as the crucified and risen One had, with unbelievers. Mission was important—certainly human beings are to be valued as human beings and not merely as missional targets—yet mission is a significant part of being a follower of Christ. Further, believers are to engage, redeem what is bad, and embrace what is good in culture and in unbelievers’ lives. On this level there is greater flexibility, and participation contexts will differ depending on who we are. Christians have been too narrow here and it is time to move in another direction. We are to be culturally savvy, deeply aware of who God is and
who we are in Christ, and graciously sensitive, as we battle against an idolatry saturated culture and live in an age, perhaps all the more lamentable, of Christianity lite.