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March 4, 2014Culture

20 Truths from Joy for the World: Christians, Culture, and the Joy of God

With every passing minute, Christianity is becoming less accepted in broader culture. What can be done?
20 Truths from Joy for the World: Christians, Culture, and the Joy of God

  • The joy of God—this Spirit-powered flourishing of human beings—can be experienced in a secondhand way by those who don't have it themselves. It can be tasted.(24)
  • I think Christianity is losing its influence in contemporary America because people outside the church just don't encounter the joy of God as much as they used to. (24)
  • We want to pull a lever and see the world change. Political involvement is not the issue; the joy of God is the issue. Remember, the joy of God is the state of flourishing in mind, heart, and life that Christians experience by the Holy Spirit. We've been so anxious to influence society in the past century that we've ended up going after a lot of shortcuts. For some it's politics, for some it's education, for some it's evangelism. We've been pulling a lot of levers. The common thread is that we're pulling these levers so hard, we leave no space for people to encounter the joy of God. (34)
  • Most importantly, American evangelicalism was never the repository of a social consensus on religion. (54)
  • Active participation in the whole fabric of society is an important element of evangelism. (55)
  • I call this holistic Christian life "the joy of God." When I say joy, I don't mean an emotion. I mean the flourishing of the whole person in mind, heart, and life. This flourishing is a transformation that extends to all of life as an integrated totality. (58)
  • These isolated pieces of Christian life (politics, scholarship, worldview, evangelism, emotions, causes) might be called the "secondary assets" of the church. God has equipped Christians with these things as components of Christian life. None of them is itself Christian life. (61)
  • The indispensable key that unlocks all the secrets of human existence is not some set of timeless philosophical truths, nor some body of eternally recurring rituals and unchanging institutions. It is a series of events unfolding in history: creation, fall, redemption, glorification. The Christian message is good news. (63)
  • The joy of God influences society through relationships. Human beings are made to be in relationship with each other. Just about everything we do is relational on some level. (65)
  • One of the great dangers of our time is the illusion that moral obligations are somehow weaker if they're not chosen. (74)
  • Relationships and obligations are a constant reminder that we are not sovereign selves but created beings dependent upon God. (76)
  • Jesus is saying it's not enough for the church to follow Satan's army around and minister to its victims as it rapes and plunders the world. The church should be laying siege to the enemy's strongholds. The final victory comes only with Jesus's return, but we're supposed to be taking the battle to the enemy now. (97)
  • The heart of entrepreneurship is to do something different, something better than what everybody else is doing. Change the system, not by tearing down the old ways but by devising new ones and showing that they work better. It's a mindset and a lifestyle. (People who practice entrepreneurship within existing institutions rather than starting their own are sometimes called "intrapreneurs.") (100)
  • Our impact within civilization ultimately grows from the three-fold office of Christ—Prophet, Priest, and King. Christ exercises these offices supremely. (103)
  • When pastors and teachers succeed in making biblical knowledge effective to change the lives of congregants, that doesn't just nurture the joy of God in the congregants. It impacts American civilization. (127)
  • The changes in the lives of those congregants don't happen in a vacuum. Since we're social creatures, the change in our lives affects those around us and the institutions through which we relate to them. (127)
  • God does not believe in Lone Ranger Christians. If our discipleship calls us to do something, it calls us to work together to do it better. God has designed us as social creatures, and when we work together, we are many times more effective. (129)
  • The life of the church doesn't stop with the worship service. (149)
  • Human beings are different. We don't live by instinct. We have to be carefully taught how to live. That means we have to think about how we live. (178)
  • We have to give up our dreams of immediate victory. They tend to distract us from our real divine calling, which is the real source of a satisfactory life: to do the right thing in the right way for the right reason, in childlike reliance on God… It's a call to perseverance in doing things the hard way. But although this path is longer and harder, it's also more fulfilling and satisfying, because it maintains both integrity and effectiveness. (288)

Be sure to get the book if you find these helpful—I did and hope you did as well.

Also, you don't want to miss out on Christianity Today's review of the book.

Content taken from Joy for the World by Greg Forster, ©2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.

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