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How To Represent Jesus In A Secular World

“In the eyes of much of Western society, Christianity is the bad guy (or at least is fast becoming so).”

Cultural values have been shifting significantly, impacting churches and believers, caught in the confusion and chaos of these ever-evolving question about identity. To address these issues comes a new book by Stephen McAlpine entitled, Being the Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World that Says You Shouldn’t.

The book is divided into three parts. First, he shares how a biblical worldview became “bad” in the first place, how “our compass for who we are is not pointed outwards but inwards. We have become the source of meaning – our own meaning – and we only let people into our lives if they affirm and confirm our self-appointed True North.” Individualism and sexual freedom have become the ideal, with these ideas spreading like rapid fire through the instant communication of our day.

He explains that as cultural trends and norms shift drastically away from a biblical foundation and firmly into secularism, we need to understand that the public space won’t be neutral, and that, “Christians should prepare themselves, emotionally and practically, to live as a community on the cultural margins – and to embrace this place.”

The second part shares how a biblical worldview stands in contrast to the secular. He writes that, “gender identity is now the deepest, most important reality about the self – central to the new secular religion” and that“these matters are deeply spiritual and central to the quest for meaning.”

While culture elevates the ‘true self’ above all else, Christianity becomes seen as an antagonist to truth. The question for the church now becomes, “how do we offer the true and better gospel to those outside the church, who view it as not only wrong, but possibly dangerous?”

He answers this questions in the last section of the book. As a biblical worldview becomes dangerous to the world, and hostility toward the biblical narrative rises, what will the church do in response? He writes, “this has resulted in a strange paradox: our culture has rarely been more hostile towards the gospel, but at the same time it has rarely been more open either.”

So then, “our time would be better spent preparing for what I believe will be a tsunami of the broken and wounded who wash up on our shores.” There will be brokenness and suffering around us in the days to come, and already is. Are we paying attention to those around us, acting with the love and compassion of Christ, even in the midst of hostility.

We are reminded that our “hope is not in winning a culture war. Our hope is in the One who has defeated our true enemies – Satan, sin and death – and who has given us his victory. We will waste a lot of emotional and actual energy if we don’t cling to this truth.”

Are we, as people who love and follow Jesus, ready to answer the questions of a hostile, secular culture, focused on determining their own identity. What about to answer those who are confused and uncertain, looking for a meaningful answer about who they are. Are we ready to engage with the suffering and struggling around us with the truth of life’s meaning, purpose and restoration through the gospel?

These are important questions for the believer in these cultural times. Perhaps we see the world distracted with issues about the pandemic right now, but the cultural shifts are still taking place.

If you’re looking for a good book to understand more about how a biblical worldview contrasts with the secular, this is a great book, and I highly recommend it!

*A big thanks to the Good Book Company for a complimentary copy of this book, and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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