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10 Reasons Joy Brings Christ to Our Culture

This is a guest post by Greg Forster, a program director at the Kern Family Foundation and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. His newest book is Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It.


The Importance of Joy

How can Christians help their neighbors live more like God wants and resist the decay of our culture? One of the most important ways is by helping them encounter the joy of God.

Joy, biblically, is not just a pleasant feeling – not just “good vibrations.” Rather, joy is the explosive change the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, minds, and lives  that transforms who we are and every aspect of how we live. Helping people encounter that would make a huge difference to the role of Christianity in our culture.

Here are ten reasons why:

10. It gets people with their guard down. People are naturally wary of canned gospel presentations, political agendas or “Christian cultural impact” campaigns. They’re not wary of joyful people.

9. It offers an alternative to lust, sloth and gluttony. The joy of God rips people out of their selfish fantasy worlds, and gets them off the couch and doing something meaningful with their lives.

8. It offers an alternative to pride, greed and wrath. The joy of God casts out the fear and guilt that drive people to build fortresses of misery around themselves.

7. It liberates people from worldly enslavement. People who have the joy of God can’t be controlled and manipulated by systems of sex, money, and power.

6. It reveals new possibilities for our lives. The renewing of our minds by the Word and Spirit reveal how the world really works, showing us things we would never have dreamed of on our own.

5. It changes our priorities. You can’t address cultural problems like financial chaos, family breakdown and cutthroat politics unless you have people who care more about doing what’s right than about doing what’s easy or makes us feel good.

4. It makes us responsible. People with the joy of God want to be good stewards of all that comes under their care, and pass on a flourishing world to the next generation.

3. It reconciles Christian cultural influence with religious freedom. You can’t Christianize people with the power of the state ; the only way to genuinely influence culture for Christ is to get people to want what we have.

2. It’s good training for the New Jerusalem. Sharing the joy of God will be the whole basis of our cultural life.

1. It’s the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in us. Why show our own cultural efforts to our neighbors when we can show them God’s?


Greg Forster (PhD, Yale University) is a program director at the Kern Family Foundation and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. He also the editor of the group blog Hang Together and a regular contributor to the Gospel Coalition, First Thoughts, and other online resources. Forster is the author of numerous articles and six books, including The Joy of Calvinism and Joy for the World (excerpt).

 

Weekly Ebook Specials: Titles by Tim Chester

In conjunction with the release of Tim Chester’s Good News to the Poor, we’re excited to offer a few other books by Pastor Chester for $1.99 each. See below for the complete list!

To learn more about each title, click on the covers below to find them at Crossway.org. You’ll also find the ebooks at their reduced prices on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshout, Christianbook.com, eChristian, ibooks (apple), Vyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site. Discounted prices available through 8/5/2013.*

Featured New Release:

Good News to the Poor Cover 

Good News to the Poor: Social Involvement and the Gospel

By Tim Chester

The chasm between evangelism and social action needs to be bridged. Chester convincingly argues that the truth of the gospel is best understood and embraced in the context of loving action and gospel-centered community.

Learn more | Preview an excerpt | Buy now

Praise for Good News to the Poor

Good News to the Poor is good news for readers thinking through the relationship of evangelism to social action. Tim Chester rightly emphasizes the centrality of the gospel as he compares dependency-creating welfare with dignity-embracing development.”
Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, World News Group

Tim Chester shows that gospel proclamation and tangible acts of love, service, and mercy toward our neighbors should not be pitted against each other—God’s grace motivates action, and words and deeds go together.”
Justin S. Holcomb, Executive Director of the Resurgence; Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

 

This Week’s Ebook Specials:

Total Church

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community

By Tim Chester, Steve Timmis

$12.99 $1.99

Two pastors outline and apply a pair of overarching biblical principles that call the current body of Christ to a deep restructuring of its life and mission.

Learn more | Buy now

Everyday Church

Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission

By Tim Chester, Steve Timmis

$11.99 $1.99

Offers a missional reflection on the book of 1 Peter as well as practical ideas for churches to engage those who are unchurched in an increasingly post-Christian context.

Learn more | Buy now

You Can Change

You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions

By Tim Chester

$12.99 $1.99

A practical, interactive, and biblical book designed to help Christians in all stages of life find victory over sin by focusing on what God has already done in them. Chester focuses on heart change, not mere change of behavior, as he reminds us that God is already powerfully at work in our lives.

Learn more | Buy now

Coming Up Next Week: Resources for Leaders

*Note: Some discounts may be unavailable outside the United States due to international rights agreements.

July 30, 2013 | Posted in: Books,Church and Ministry,Discipleship,Evangelism,Weekly Ebook Specials | Author: Ted Cockle @ 3:04 pm | 0 Comments »

Good News to the Poor (Book Excerpt)

Help them or tell them? Be like Jesus or talk about Jesus? Social action or gospel proclamation?

We can find ourselves gravitating toward one of these modes over the other—maybe even pitting word against deed, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Yet Good News to the Poor shows us how both are integrated in the biblical vision of mission that we would be both loving evangelists and loving activists.

Learn more about Good News to the Poor: Social Involvement and the Gospel by Tim Chester (July 2013). .

Preview an Excerpt


Download a PDF of the excerpt

Praise for Good News to the Poor

Good News to the Poor is good news for readers thinking through the relationship of evangelism to social action. Tim Chester rightly emphasizes the centrality of the gospel as he compares dependency-creating welfare with dignity-embracing development.”
—Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-chief, World News Group

“The Christian church has at its best been known for its exemplary love and sacrificial service to ‘the least of these’: the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Tim Chester shows that gospel proclamation and tangible acts of love, service, and mercy toward our neighbors should not be pitted against each other—God’s grace motivates action, and words and deeds go together.”
—Justin S. Holcomb, Executive Director of the Resurgence; Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“Tim Chester provides a timely reminder that Christianity at its best is actually a well-balanced combination of social action and gospel proclamation. This book does an excellent job removing the perceived wall between these two camps. Chester challenges the Christian church to work for justice and peace in the process of calling individuals to conversion and the new birth. This book is a much-needed call for a renewed understanding of the Christian calling.”
—Ben Peays, Executive Director, The Gospel Coalition

“What’s the relationship between the gospel and social action for the believer? I’ve been asked that question many times over the years, and it is one we must answer well. If we do not get the relationship between the gospel and social action right, we will likely end up undermining both of them. This is why Tim Chester’s Good News to the Poor is an essential book for Christians. He argues persuasively and winsomely that gospel proclamation and social action are inseparable.”

—Dan Cruver, Director, Together for Adoption; author, Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father

“A vital challenge to gospel people to follow in the footsteps of William Carey. Consistent, mission-minded evangelicals have always refused to choose between a commitment to gospel proclamation and an active concern for the poor. Tim Chester digs deep into the Bible to show us why both are vital and what it means to be Christ’s people in a world of need.”
—Keith Walker, Director, SIM-UK/N. Europe

“This important, well-written book is a must-read for those looking for a way to integrate word and deed to advance God’s purposes in our needy world.”
—Tom Sine, author, Living on Purpose: Finding God’s Best For Your Life

Learn more | Buy now

Video: “Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All”

Why does God seem to be calling so many people to cities? How should we think about and engage with the cities of the world?

Christ + City not only reveals to us an incredible opportunity, but also explains why God loves cities, how and why we should live in them, and what we can do to reach them for his glory.

Listen in as Pastor Jon Dennis, author of Christ + City, and others share their love for these cultural centers and their desire to see the kingdom of God take root in the city.

Learn more | Preview an excerpt | Buy now

 

Video: The Vision Behind Buzzard and Um’s ‘Why Cities Matter’

About Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church

Right now, more people live in urban centers than ever before. This means that we have an unprecedented opportunity to influence the majority of the world through the church in the city.

Helping us to make the most of this moment, urban pastors Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um lay out a compelling vision for cultural engagement and church planting in our world’s cities.

If you’re looking for motivation to maintain a commitment to the city or for guidance as you consider going all in, Why Cities Matter provides a comprehensive analysis of urban life that informs, instructs, inspires, and answers questions including:

  • Why cities are so important
  • What the Bible says about cities
  • How to overcome common issues and develop a plan for living missionally in the city

Instead of retreating from or taking from our cities, here is a call to make the cities our home, to take good care of them, and to participate in God’s kingdom-building work in the urban centers of our world.

Learn more | Buy now | Read an excerpt