This week’s Five on Friday is inspired by a recent tweet from The Gospel Coalition that identified four ways that the church today should seek to be an alternate society within our culture, just as the New Testament church did in their time. Those four characteristics (plus one that I added) are:
The church today should be marked by a striking multi-ethnicity. Christianity is far and away the most ethnically and culturally diverse religion in the world. This is an enormous credibility factor for Christianity. Yet the Western church often doesn’t look multi-ethnic to its culture. The public spokespersons for the church should be from as many different racial groups as possible.
The church today should be pioneers in civility, in building bridges to those who oppose us. The earliest Christians were viciously persecuted and put to death, but the church practiced forgiveness and non-retaliation. Nowhere in the West are Christians facing this, yet many respond to even verbal criticism with like-toned disdain and attacks. Christians should be peacemakers instead of pouring scorn on our critics and “sitting in the seat of mockers” (Psalm 1:1).
The church today should be famous for our generosity, care for the poor, and commitment to justice in society. The church should be well known as the main institution working to organize poor and marginal communities to advocate for their own interests with government and business.
Sanctity of Life and Sex
The church today should be committed to the sanctity of life, and to being a sexual counterculture. The church today should not merely maintain the traditional sex ethic among its own people, but it must learn to critique the false cultural narratives underlying our society’s practice and view of sex.
The church today should display an overt and obvious integrity of our beliefs and behaviors. Our lives must demonstrate the type of transformation that we believe Jesus is capable of creating. We need to heed the charge that the apostle Peter gave to the church of his day: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).