Saying No to the Culture of Restlessness by Andres Miranda
In the Bible the Sabbath is essentially an affirmation of faith and identity in the midst of our culture that is inhospitable restless and empty. Con-temporary society is preoccupied with gaining more control of the world and time. They tell us that to have more means to be more.
So, all human life has been reduced to the requirements of the global market. But the Bible is more concerned with the sanctification of time by rest and inaction.
On this day the benefits and distractions of technology are put aside, to give rest to the body, and more importantly to deepen our relationship with God. The Sabbath is a sphere of inaction. It is resistance to the relentless demands of the market ideology that
encourages us to pursue the same needs and desires that leave us feeling restless, inadequate, unfulfilled. Our system of consumption requires that we want more have more, own more, use more, eat and drink more.
An excerpt from David Hegeman’s book, Plowing In Hope:
Are Christians still pilgrims?
The Greek word parepidemos is used to describe God’s saints in 1 Peter 1:1 and 2:11. This term (appearing always in the plural in the NT) is often rendered ‘pilgrims’ or ‘sojourners’ or ‘aliens’ in English. It expresses the idea of one who is traveling away from home, whose present residence is only temporary. Thus the term is used in Hebrews 11:13 to refer to the OT patriarchs who, because they had not yet possessed their homeland, were wanderers on the earth. The notion of the Christian as pilgrim, when combined with other verses in Scripture (e.g., Eph. 2:6, 19; Phil. 3:20) which allude to our citizenship in heaven, is often thought to mean that the earth is not our home; that we are waiting for a better, heavenly reality which has nothing to do with this present world. Augustine coined the phrase ‘resident aliens’ to describe the state of believers who currently find themselves living on the earth. To many Christians it seems foolhardy to invest significant effort in the cultural development of the earth if we do not, in fact, belong here.
But the scripture passages are plentiful which teach that the earth—albeit renewed and glorified—will be our new home (Is. 60; 65:17ff; Mt. 5:5; Rom.8:21; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21-22); that we are destined to continue to have a physical existence in glorified bodies (Cor. 15:35ff; Phil. 3:21); and that we will continue to rule the New Earth (Rev. 22:5) and serve God (Rev. 7:15) as we did in Eden. If this present earth is indeed our eventual home, as it was for Adam, why did the apostle Paul call his readers aliens? One possible reason why the saints of Asia Minor were called aliens was the hostile, pagan culture which was a constant threat to the churches in this region. (It was here that Roman persecution was often most severe.) As the Church was to prosper in later times, gaining the upper hand as it did, for example, in Reformation countries, the label ‘pilgrim’ would have lost much of its resonance for contemporary readers. Nevertheless, it is true that Christians of any era must face the continuing existence of evil and the effects of sin in society. In this sense we are alienated from all that is ungodly in this present world.
I would suggest that Augustine had it backwards: That we are not ‘resident aliens’ but alienated residents. We are grieved at the present state of affairs on our beloved earth and long and pray for its liberation from the curse and sin (Rom. 8:19ff; Lk. 11:2). Our situation can be compared to a prince who is living in cognito in a rebel province belonging to his father, the king. This territory will one day be rightfully his, but right now the prince risks great harm from his insurgent neighbors if his true identity were ever to be revealed. Thus this prince would be an alien in his own country. We Christians find ourselves in a similar situation. As heirs of the promised inheritance (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 1:11, 6:3), we find ourselves in a world full of evil, sin, and misery. But we live with the hope that the rebels will be forcibly removed from the earth (Mt. 13:41), and once it is renewed and refurnished, we will be returned to our home to live for ever and ever in God’s glorious presence.
The Christian faith has been engaged in a great culture war since the first century A.D., and it continues until today. Part of our overall calling and mission as Christians is to conquer cultures for Christ. We will not win this war by adopting worldly ways or fleshly weapons.
For while we walk in the flesh, we never wage war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly. Rather, they are powerful through God for the pulling down of strong defensive barriers: for pulling down reasonings [literally: logical arguments] and every high barrier which lifts itself up against the knowledge of God; and for capturing all intellect [or, every thought] to the obedience of Christ. (Second Corinthians 10:3-5, Very Literal Translation)
Using the weapons which the Lord gives us, we can storm the city, pull down its high defensive walls of false reasonings, pull down the barriers lifted up in the mind against the knowledge of God, then overwhelm and subdue the rebel city of man’s culture, taking intellectual prisoners to be slaves — willing or unwilling slaves — for Christ.
We can try to diagnose the problem, we can assign the blame, and we can ring our hands all we want about the moral and intellectual decline of American culture, but the fact remains that American Culture is in decline precisely because American Christians have been in retreat. We need to return to the battle and to engage the enemy on all fronts, and we need to raise up a generation of Christians who are prepared to storm the walls of darkness with the weapons of Christian warfare, and we need to take prisoners.
Evangelism is the proclamation of the faith. Apologetics is the defense of the faith. The two work together. They have to: They are both fighting on the same side against the same enemies.
In this booklet, I hope to give you — in one lesson — all of the basic information which you need to defend the faith. I will sketch out for you the scene of battle from a philosophical perspective, some of the strategies of war, including the enemy’s battle plan with variations, and some of the weapons of Christian warfare. Our mission is to conquer the culture for Christ.