Alan Shlemon’s family was originally from Baghdad, Iraq. Before they came to this country, they believed that America was a Christian country. Alan explains that over the years of living here, what he found instead was a country with many people who are ‘nominal’ Christians. “They don’t attend services regularly. They don’t know much about Christianity. And so, you have this large population of people who turn out to be nominally Christian, in name only.” (Alan Shlemon is an author and speaker for “Stand to Reason,” an organization that trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.)
Are we a nominally Christian culture?
Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of God by his life, ministry, death and resurrection and the subsequent outpouring of the Spirit into the world. In this sense Christ is reigning now and the Kingdom of God has arrived. But we do await the future consummation of the divine reign. We balance in the “already” state of salvation and redemptive reign of Christ in our daily lives while still waiting for the eternal salvation and redemption of the Age to Come. As we engage the culture, we must be sensitive to the brokenness that still exists. There is no doubt that we live and work in a time and among a people not yet experiencing the perfection we expect in the Age to Come.
A closer look shows us that this duality also exists in our inward being. Don’t we all experience the “already/not yet” of our own salvation on a daily basis? By acceptance of Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the Cross, we are saved once and for all; but are we not still in need of Christ’s saving grace every day, even every moment?
It is this perspective that allows us to keep one foot in the world of the Church even as it compels us to firmly place our other foot in the culture on behalf of the gospel. The “already/not yet” nature of the Kingdom is not just an observation, it’s a calling.
We are loved by a king who seeks us out. Jesus’ message of the Kingdom proclaimed that God not only will finally act, but that God is even RIGHT NOW acting redemptively in history. In fact, Jesus personifies the seeking God, and has left us His Spirit to continue the seeking work. We are compelled by a seeking God who finds us no matter where we hide. He leads us to dark places to find His people and lead them into the light.
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5