I want you to imagine a conversation between Joshua and God. "Now Joshua, I have called you to take the leadership from Moses, and I want you to take my people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. However, once you cross the Jordan River, I want you and all your people to sit down. Your mission is done."
"Ridiculous!" you might say. I would agree with you. But, in many ways, this is exactly what the American Church has done in the last fifty years. We have preached the gospel of Salvation, but we have not taught the people to apply the message of the Gospel to their everyday life. This is the difference between the gospel of Salvation and the gospel of the Kingdom. This is the second reason I believe we have been losing the culture.
Jesus did not come merely to give us a ticket to heaven. He came to bring us much more the kingdom of God on earth. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the term, gospel of salvation. The church does not exist for heaven, but for earth. If it existed only for heaven, then upon conversion, each of us would immediately be taken to heaven. Oswald Chambers said, "It is not a question of being saved from hell, but in being saved in order to manifest the Son of God in our mortal flesh." There would be no reason for us to remain on earth if there was not a work to be done. So why has God allowed us to receive this new birth and remain on earth? It is so that we might bring the kingdom of God into our world - to our families, our workplace, and our communities.
Jesus talked about the kingdom of God more than seventy times in the New Testament-much more often than He mentioned salvation. While salvation is part of bringing the kingdom of God on earth, it includes much more. When Jesus came to earth, He came in order to penetrate the very kingdom of darkness with light. He came to bring healing to sickness, replace sadness with joy, and fill meaninglessness people with purpose. He came to change things for the better in a world that had no hope outside of God.
Chuck Colson says: "Genuine Christianity is more than a relationship with Jesus, as expressed in personal piety, church attendance, Bible Study, and works of charity. It is more than discipleship, more than believing a system of doctrines about God. Genuine Christianity is a way of seeing and comprehending all reality. It is a worldview."1
God wants you to bring the kingdom of God into the territory He has given you so that His will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Your domain is your workplace, family, and community. When the gospel of the kingdom comes into a life and a community, everything in its wake is impacted.
We need to understand how the church arrived at this place of being stuck on the gospel of salvation.
In 1999, we hosted a marketplace conference in Atlanta. One of my speakers was Landa Cope, Dean of the College of Communication for Youth with a Mission University of the Nations. Landa teaches all over the world. At that time she was writing a book, and she taught us from her notes. Today her book titled, An Introduction to the Old Testament Template, addresses the issue of the failure of the church to operate from Jesus' paradigm of the gospel of the kingdom versus the gospel of salvation. She believes this is why we have had such little impact in the western church.
Her opening chapter tells a story about her sitting in her living room one day watching television, when a British journalist was saying that Christians believe that the more Christians there are in a community, the more that community will be affected for good - the greater the Christian presence, then the greater the benefit to the society at large.
The TV journalist went on to describe a research project that was designed to discover if this was true. He evaluated the most Christianized city in America to see how this influence worked out practically. He defined most Christianized as the community with the largest percentage of church attendance regularly - Dallas, Texas. He looked at various statistics and studies, including crime, safety on the streets, police enforcement, and the justice and penal system. He looked at health care, hospitals, emergency care, contagious diseases, infant mortality rate, and the distribution of caregivers. He reviewed education, equality of schools, safety, test scores and graduation statistics. Jobs, housing, and general economics were also evaluated. Each of these categories was evaluated using racial and economic factors. Was there equity regardless of color, creed or income? And so on.
By the time the journalist host was done with the conclusions of the Dallas study, Landa was devastated. No one would want to live in a city in that condition. The crime, the decrepit social systems, the disease, the economic discrepancies, the racial injustice all disqualified this community from having an adequate quality of life. And this was the most Christianized city in America! Landa wanted to weep.
The television host took this devastating picture of a broken community to Christian leaders and asked for their observations. One by one, each pastor viewed the same facts about the condition of his city. With simplicity, the narrator asked each minister, "As a Christian leader what is your response to the condition of your community?" Without exception, in various ways, they all said the same thing, "This is not our concern...we are spiritual leaders."2 Martin Luther said, "A gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is not the gospel at all."
God is doing a unique work in the earth today. There are seasons in which the Holy Spirit speaks things to the church. During one decade, it might be a focus on evangelism. During another, it might be a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit. During another, it might be a focus on social problems in cities.
For the last several decades, we have seen the church focus on proclamation evangelism. This has been true in the workplace movement as well. In 1930, CBMC began with a focus on evangelizing men in the workplace. Twenty years later, Full Gospel Businessmen International was birthed through Demos Shakarian. This too was a focus on winning men to Christ. Billy Graham rose in prominence during the fifties and sixties. His crusades won many to Christ. However, in the workplace movement we began to see some discrepancies, similar to Landa's story. We would often hear comments from Christians and non-Christians alike, who said: "I will never work with a Christian. The last time I did I got burned." The reason this was happening was that people were getting saved in the marketplace, but their lives had not been transformed. Their souls had been redeemed, but their working lives had not. In other words, the gospel of the kingdom had not been realized in their lives.
It wasn't until the 1980s that this began to change in the workplace movement. Groups like the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) emerged in 1985, and began helping men and women apply the Word of God to how they worked. Work was no longer a platform for sharing the Gospel, it was now a place to bring the presence and power of God into the very ways we operate our businesses. Many other marketplace groups birthed during the same time frame, also with a focus on applying the Word of God to how individuals worked.
In the nineties, we began to see a new focus emerge. This focus was on social entrepreneurship and social transformation. Groups like the Pinnacle Forum and HalfTime with Bob Buford began to promote social agendas using entrepreneurship from a Christian viewpoint to impact the culture. Our organization, Marketplace Leaders, was birthed in 1996. Our mission is to help men and women fulfill their purpose in and through their work life.
It was also this time frame when the Billy Graham organization, Henry Blackaby, Peter Wagner, and Ed Silvoso entered the marketplace movement. They had not been focused on this area until then. They recognized something was going on in the workplace, and they wanted to support it. Ed Silvoso, who resides in California but originates from Argentina, became one of the most active practitioners who modeled city and community transformation by combining marketplace initiatives with intercession, local church leadership, and working initiatives to solve community problems in cooperation with city government officials. In essence, he was combining the gospel of salvation with the gospel of the kingdom, which resulted in a changed community and even nations.
This is an excerpt from Os Hillman's book Change Agent: Engaging Your Passion to be the One That Makes the Difference.
References:1. Oswald Chambers, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2000), 937.
2. Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1999), 14-15.