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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Kingdom Is Much Larger Than The Soul

If government and business leaders of a particular city or nation were to view Christianity as a catalyst for economic development, stability, and job creation, do you think it might increase the probability that Christianity would be welcomed by those leaders?

Let me pose the question differently: If civil and business leaders of a particular city or nation were to see Christianity as a personal, private affair, concerned primarily with the salvation of souls and the after-life, would this increase the probability that Christianity would not be taken seriously by those leaders?

I think so. On both counts.

I've been asking why Christianity has a positive effect on the development of some places and little effect on others. As one put it, "Why are some cities that have been Christianized and churched, like Lagos, Nigeria, still full of poverty and corruption?"

Part of the answer lies in how the terms "Christianized" and "churched" are defined.

In some places, "Christianization" has produced a withdrawal of Christians from this present world. The "Gospel" (so-called) has produced Christians with no real interest in the way business is done, or how civil affairs are managed.

Dr. Darrell Furgason observed: “In places like Africa...Western missionaries generally brought the Gospel in the way they learned it, as a purely soul-saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else—religion was a mostly personal matter, nothing to do with things like politics, science, law, economics….African people were given the Gospel, but not how to build a righteous nation, how to apply Christianity to everything."

As I heard one African educator say: "Africans have understood the Gospel of Salvation, but not the Gospel of the Kingdom."

The Gospel of Salvation points people to becoming born-again believers through faith in Christ's shed blood. Through this amazing door we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, and this is the beginning.

But the Gospel of the Kingdom helps people understand what salvation is for. We are not just saved from something, but for something!

The Gospel of Salvation is part of the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the whole. The Kingdom is much larger than the soul.

One of the best descriptions I've heard on this topic is by Paul Stevens, author of The Other Six Days. Please watch this 2 minute, 53 second segment of an interview I did with him a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VitIItMXKc0

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