A Third Way...

I'm reading Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World by John Stackhouse Jr.

In it, he brilliantly argues for a "third way" of envisioning Christianity in the real world. Not countercultural, against the world. Not apart from the world - an escapist "city on a hill" model. But rather a dualistic, even paradoxical commitment as a citizen of both the world and the Kingdom of God.

Stackhouse writes:

Most of us live in a world that is grayer than these black-and-white options [the apart or against poles], and some of us earnestly want Biblical guidance for such living. Indeed, most of us make our way in a world in which success means asking for ten, hoping for eight, and settling for six. We experience compromise, disappointment, unexpected impediments, and unintended consequences.
...
It is obvious that the international order is far from Christian in its identity and conduct. In that crucial sense it is clearly not the Kingdom of God. Nonetheless, the Kingdom of God is partialy and mixedly, but also really, present in the extension of these [true and good] values into spheres previously not deeply shaped by them.
We see the marks of the Kingdom of God, then, wherever light penetrates darkness, wherever good makes its way against evil or inertia, wherever beauty emerges amid upgliness or vapidity, and wherever truth sounds out against error or falsity. And as we gladly recognize these marks, we also long for the complete manifestation of God's reign in the return of his Son.

Stackhouse writes of "the Kingdom of God, incognito" working its way in and through human systems. It may not be the ultimate manifestation many Christians expect and pray for, but it is good nonetheless.

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