123 pages / 2018
Why Take Heart, and how - especially as we face "the end of Christendom"? That's Matt Chandler's concern.
Chandler describes three ways that Christians often respond to "the age of unbelief":
- seeking to convert culture,
- condemning culture, and
- conforming to culture.
While each of these has a place in our approach to North American society, the problem with all three is that they are motivated by fear. Instead, we need to approach culture with courage.
Chandler tells us that "the end of Christendom" is a good thing, because the church has always thrived on the margins, as nominal church members leave the fold and those left have a new chance to demonstrate Christian courage. And how do we gain that courage? By knowing how great is the God whom we serve (freeing us from focusing on our own smallness), and realizing that He is "playing the long game" (freeing us from looking narrowly at our own situation).
And just how great is our God? Chandler borrows the title and ideas of the book God Is a Warrior to show how God has fought for His people and against His unfaithful people, promised to be their warrior among His people and then fulfilled those promises in Christ. Since Christ's ascension, His people proclaim His victory to the world, as well as His return as a warrior to finally defeat His enemies and reestablish the reign of peace (shalom) that was broken by the fall into sin. With a Warrior God like that, how could we not be courageous?
But what does that courage look like? Chandler draws on 1 Peter to show how courage in Christ involves holiness (which is shown by integrity), devotion to our church and the common good, and evangelism. Perhaps the most surprising way to begin that evangelistic response to the Great Commission is through hospitality: welcoming everyone you meet, engaging with people, and making dinner a priority (including invitations to the outsider and the outcast) - following Jesus in His faithfulness to His Father and His love for the people on the margins. Finally, Chandler refers to Psalm 139 to show how literally, "you were made for now." God has put the nations within their boundaries (Acts 17:24-27), and us in specific places within those nations, to bring God's victory to the people of those nations. No wonder, as Chandler sums up, that "This is a great time to be a Christian. Take heart."
If you think that Matt Chandler's exhortations can encourage you to confront our culture with holiness, devotion, and evangelistic hospitality, you can get his book here and here in Canada.