Don Atkin, Steve Crosby, Greg Austin
Our perceptions, perspectives and priorities are influenced by our
worldviews, and our foundations establish our
We are especially concerned in this article with finding integrity—integral
living—in the body of Christ. We see so
The vast majority of people, both those who identify with Christ and those
who do not, are primarily fixed upon living
The Good Life has replaced The God Life. The Path to Prosperity has become
The “American Dream” lifestyle has been with us for many years. Much of the
Western world has sought to chase
• Should we be engaging a Babylonian system?
It takes a long time to turn a large ship, especially when so many people
are just waking up from a long winter's nap.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL REVOLUTION
Social revolutions began to appear as waves, crashing upon the shores of American—and then most of Western civilization following the Second World War.
• The economic boom of the 1950’s in America provided the means for a new, restless spirit to find its voice.
• The shifting culture provided a marketplace primed and ready for Elvis and “Jail House Rock" in 1957.
• Beatle mania began in Liverpool, England. The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960's.
• The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco is famous for its role as a center of the 1960's hippie movement, a post-runner and closely associated offshoot of the "beat generation" or the "beatnik" movement, members of which swarmed San Francisco's "in" North Beach neighborhood two to eight years before the "Summer of Love" in 1967.
• Five hundred thousand predominately young concert-goers braved the rain to hear thirty-two rock and roll acts play at Max Yasgur's dairy farm near Woodstock, New York in August, 1969.
• The Vietnam War spanned the season of social and cultural revolutions, beginning in 1955 and ending in 1975.
• Psychology Today began publication in 1967 reflecting in print the changing focus in the minds of people. Folks whose memories do not predate this era will be unable to track with those of us who do remember life as it was.
• The soul of Western nations was gutted during those cathartic years, and we became something we were not before.
Two radically differing philosophies of life simultaneously emerged with new energy—capitalism versus socialism—both holding to the righteousness of their causes, neither of them offering a holistic and balanced lifestyle. Captialism, espoused by the establishment had the infrastructure and momentum on its side for many years. But Revolutionaries continued to increase in number and structure until we now find ourselves living in a season of shifting momentum.
Both extremes actually share the same foundation—the foundation of self, the fruit of more than fifty years of social and cultural revolutions. Sub-philosophies include selfish self and benevolent self.2 (Yes, there is even a magazine that is called “Self.” It began publishing in January 1979. Hmmm.)
Neither philosophy—capitalism or socialism—reflects the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Nor do the variety of spiritual gurus that have found their way to prime time television with their captivating messages of self-help and self-improvement. Many of their books are on the shelves of Christian bookstores.
No nation has a corner on corruption in government. Corruption is inherent in the foundation of self. Unfortunately, there is corruption in the church (for the same reason). And, Christian people are getting caught up in fighting for a philosophy and way of life that has little to do with the mandates of the Christian faith. Christianity was birthed into and has always thrived in hostile environments. Understanding our faith and our foundation will help us understand how we are to posture ourselves in today’s raucous social/spiritual climate.
Whether we’re talking politics, ministry or any other career, there are basically only two options for building. One is I, the “self,” and the other is He, Jesus Christ.
• Adam or Christ?
NO OTHER FOUNDATION
There is no third option. Actually there are no options. Because, for us to build upon self is exactly the same as building upon sand.8 So many who built careers on sand have come crashing down. We are witnessing an epidemic of human failure. We are aware of these especially among politicians and ministers, because they lead such public lives.
Of those who claim to be building upon Jesus as their foundation, but build their lives on self, Jesus asks,“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”9 Jesus described the futility of such hypocrisy: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”10
Paul built his life on the Lord Jesus Christ. Allow us some journalistic liberty as we consider his confession: “Adam” has been crucified with Christ; it is no longer “Adam” who lives (in me), but (the Spirit of) Christ lives in me.11
Jesus would describe Paul this way: “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against the house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”12
Paul clearly enunciates the only foundation meant to support the life that God gives us: No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.13
BUILDING MATERIALS THAT PASS THE ETERNITY TEST
Paul goes on to discuss what materials are acceptable for building upon Christ: Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built upon it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.14
“He himself will be saved” because of trust in Jesus Christ as his foundation. But, what he did with his life will result in suffering loss. He could have been rewarded had he built with the right materials. Gold, silver and precious stones increase in purity and value when tested by fire. Wood, hay and straw are destroyed by fire.
Eugene Peterson’s The Message helps us to grasp the gravity of these
Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the
there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take
particular care in
picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an
inspection. If you use
Jesus provides us with the simple understanding of how to build on the foundation: obedience! “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”16
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”17
Gold, silver and precious stones typify the revelation of Jesus. They remain a mystery to those who have no foundation in their lives. The tragedy is that so many who do have Christ in them remain dysfunctional, continually fall short of glorifying Him, because they build their lives with faulty, temporal materials. Many who claim faith in Jesus give their lives to building careers (or merely surviving) focused upon wood, hay and straw.
Jesus, our model of personhood, the consummate individual, only did what He saw His Father doing.18 He had no will of His own, and therefore offered only righteous judgment.19 He spoke only just as the Father told Him.20
God invades time and space, makes His presence known in the cosmos, through
Redemptive grace needs to be extended into all arenas of life—politics,
education, medicine, science, etc. Creation eagerly waits the revealing of
the sons of God.21 Representing God’s kingdom in the world, piercing the darkness with the
light of Christ, cannot
happen through people whose philosophies, lifestyles and worldviews are
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, we pray that you are building on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and using heaven-sent building materials, so that you may be rewarded for your work. Father wants to reward you!
COUNTING THE COST
Jesus infuses us with His spiritual life through new birth. Everything that He was and is becomes ours in seed form. Christ is in us, the hope of glory.23 Our new lives are to be lived through the faith of the Son of God.24
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.25 The Seed of Christ, the Anointed One within, grows and develops into abundant life as we seek first His kingdom and righteousness,26 and are discipled by the guardians and stewards He provides for us.27
It is tragic that the gospel of the kingdom has been distorted into a gospel
of personal salvation, a
Those who embrace Him as Savior, so that their sins are forgiven and they can go to heaven, must also totally yield to Him as Lord. The familiar saying is hard for the flesh to accept and unpopular to the extreme, but it is nevertheless true: “Jesus is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.”
God will not accept a second place position in any man’s list of priorities.28 His kingdom (government) on earth as it is in heaven29 is a present reality to be embraced here and now. As followers, disciples of Christ, our thoughts and lives are to be ordered by His Spirit.30 The kingdom is within us.31
Jesus did not mince words. Speaking to the great multitudes, He was totally forthright: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
“Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”32
Disciples are Christians; Christians are disciples. These are synonymous terms. Those who are not disciples, followers, are not truly Christians. There is a huge price to pay to be a disciple.
Jesus made it clear. There are no classes of disciples. The same is expected of everyone who comes to Jesus—everything. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.33
TO FULLY EMBRACE CHRIST IS TO EMBRACE WHOLENESS
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons. But if you are without chastening, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Therefore, strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and
paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather
be healed.34 God’s gift of His Son brings us wholeness, not merely forgiveness. Wholeness
is essential for the
fulfilling of God’s purpose for creating us, and for fulfilling our destiny
in Christ. Our purpose in
Him, in His body, is to be executed with precision. This is not something
that we can accomplish.
His working in us His will and ways is a process of discipleship under the
guidance of the Holy
The Archer knows that he cannot simply nock an arrow on the string, draw the bow, aim and release his arrow and hope to consistently hit any target. What is critical to consistency of accurate shooting is the “anchor point,” a pre-established “set point” on the string, marked by two, typically copper and rubber caliper-acting devices crimped onto the string. Thus, every arrow that is nocked has the identical alignment, the same “start point.” Without a precise anchor point, our judgments become faulty, we buy into situational ethical opinion, and we stray from the Maker’s mark. We shift and fluctuate in our priorities and our principles. We love Jesus one day and deny Him the next in our manner of life; we have built our houses upon sand.
Our “anchor point,” or “set point” must be the Cross. This is the starting point from which everything in our lives is judged as good or evil, right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. What we allow, what we pursue, what we spend our energies, time and material resources on, all these are dictated by our starting point – by the foundation that establishes our worldview.
CHRIST, OUR FOUNDATION AND FULLNESS
When Jesus asked the rhetorical question concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?” We think he was referring to John’s foundation. John’s understanding was lacking, (observed in John’s sending of two disciples to ask if Jesus was the Coming One), but lest the multitudes misunderstand, Jesus verified John’s foundation.
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” And then the almost cryptic, “He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” is held out as something to be attained, to be found by those under Jesus’ voice.
We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.35 Yet, our entire natural lives have been saturated with all that is around us. The insidious, incessant “creep of culture” makes inroads into our natural lives, infecting and contaminating our spiritual lives until, when held up to the light of Christ and His Gospel, our lives bear little, if any resemblance to the template of His life. In a great measure, we are the products of our environment. And, the ways of man have permeated our souls.
We can think that we are serving God, yet fail to embrace His higher thoughts and ways.36 Remember that gold, silver and precious stones are ours for the asking. (We are not speaking about the riches of this world, which are so often a snare.)
The knowledge of His will for you, together with the faith that He is in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure,37 are true riches of eternal value.
May our worldview be adjusted based upon the right foundation, so that our perceptions and perspectives are accurate. Our worldview should be seen through the cross, and from our place seated together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.38
God will show His mercy forever and ever to those who worship and serve Him.39 God does not save us because of what we’ve done.
Only a puny god could be bought with tithes.
Only an egotistical god would be impressed with our pain.
God’s delight is received upon surrender, not awarded upon conquest. The
first step to joy
is a plea for help, an acknowledgment of moral destitution, an admission of
paucity. Those who taste God’s presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy
aware of their spiritual crisis. Their pockets are empty. Their options are
gone. They have
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are (in the process of) being saved (coming to wholeness) it is the power of God.41
1 J. Lee Grady. "Are You Holding On . . . or
Letting Go?" Charisma Magazine, June 2010.
Don Atkin www.DonAtkin.com