“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
Matthew 2:12 (NKJV)
It wouldn’t be unfair or unreasonable to describe contemporary western culture – and American culture in particular – as one big Power Struggle.
With the decline of the historic “Christian consensus” we’ve seen a dramatic rise in social fragmentation and a proliferation of “warring camps.” Everybody nowadays seems to be part of some group or sub-group that’s fighting tooth-and-nail for its place in the sun. Sadly enough, the church has come to be regarded as just another participant in the general brawl – a circumstance which begs a huge question for sincere disciples of Jesus: “How can we rise above the fray and preserve the uniqueness of our identity and message?”
There’s really only one answer.
Like the Magi, we have to find another way.
In an oft-overlooked and little understood passage of Scripture, Isaiah pictures God’s people doing precisely that. “In that day,” he writes, “Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 19:24).
In Isaiah’s time, Egypt and Assyria were the two heavy-hitters on the international scene. Like the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War era, they defined the great Power Struggle of the day. Everybody assumed that the contest would eventually be decided in favor of one or the other of these two superpowers. But Isaiah’s eyes were opened to a third possibility: the possibility of God’s true servants becoming a blessing, not only to the belligerents, but to the rest of the world as well.
Author Philip Yancey is calling upon contemporary believers to catch the same vision. And, remarkably, he’s using Lee Jong-rak, the Korean pastor whose work with orphans and abandoned infants is highlighted in The Drop Box, as an example of what he has in mind. Like the early Christians in Rome, says Yancey, Pastor Lee and his co-workers at Jusarang Community Church in Seoul are responding to the challenge of a secular culture not by scrambling for a position at the top of the heap, but by expressing Christ’s love through practical service to the weakest and lowest members of society. What’s more, they’re seeing similar results: as in Rome, so in Korea and in many other parts of the world, people are sitting up and taking notice of the blessing embodied in Pastor Lee’s work.
Want to know more? Then take a look at Philip’s blog post “Filling The Grace Gap” (originally posted October 16, 2014). It’s a tribute to the wisdom and power of choosing “another way.”