As I sit here on a very snowy New Years Eve here in Quincy IL, it occurs to me that we have had a great year here at MCOI. Somewhere along the way, the Lord has added to our numbers. Some of those people have found the Facebook page through the blog but more likely it was the other way around. We have currently 195 people and organizations that “like” us in the Facebook kind of way at least. We’ve had some stimulating discussions. We’ve raised a few eyebrows and hopefully the tenor of what passes for public debate. Not bad for a little outfit that operates on a shoe string budget (and if you know where we can sell these shoestrings for some actual money, please let us know!).
So in the tradition of . . . well, every prime time morning TV show, let’s hop into the way back machine and take a look at some of the memorable posts from this year.
By far the biggest topic this year was the election. We had several posts and though MCOI is a non-partisan organization, we are not ostriches with our head in the sand. Don started us off this year with what he dubbed the first political question of the season in “‘Tis the Season to be Political”:
Does the idea that, “changing the world requires that individual Christians vote into office those who hold the right values or possess the right worldview and therefore will make the right choices” preclude God’s intervention in the affairs of men? In other words, can God use non-believing leaders to bless His people?
This turned out to be a crucial question given that the nominee for the Republicans was a Mormon. There was much speculation about whether a Christian could vote for a Mormon. However, we were aiming at much more interesting question: Is there something wrong with the American Evangelical Church’s reliance on politics to preserve our culture? We spent several posts analyzing James Davison Hunter’s book To Change the World which argues that politics cannot and should not be the primary vehicle of cultural change. We came away with more questions than answers. From “Culturetopia”:
Is our task to force Christian behavior on culture through politics and legislation or to persuade individuals who in turn will impact culture for the gospel? In other words, is our work to cause people to live more Christianly and have better behaved unredeemed sinners or persuade them through word and deed to be reconciled to God? How will that change what the church does in both its mission and ministry?
The idea of how to engage the culture is a frequent theme in our blogs but the post that got the most comments was one tangential to the election. When President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, it was if someone had kicked a hornet’s nest. Our previous examination about politics and culture led me to write one of the most difficult posts I have ever written, “No Retreat but Much Surrender: Changing Christian Engagement on Homosexuality”:
We should not retreat from the public square but surrender our pastoral impulse to save our society in favor of being a peculiar people dedicated to imparting the gospel not protecting our way of life. This is incredibly hard for me as a father. I want my son and daughter to be safe and flourish in society. However, that measure of safety that I might secure, though doubtful, by force of law is not my calling as a disciple. I have to surrender my fears about the future of the surrounding culture to the gospel and its priorities which are always counterculture and may get my son killed. Instead of trying to preserve society, I want to show my children that Christian community serves as God-blessed haven from society and its pluralism where they gain strength to live and love in the public square. This means that I may have to surrender my preoccupation for political theater. It means I may have to reorient myself to the fact that my primary identity is not Christian American but resident alien enjoying the freedom for which the Republic stands. But if that freedom dissolves slowly at the hands of fallen creatures seeking power and virtuous culture goes down in flames, my true citizenship is not affected.
That promoted some to praise my thoughts, some to urge caution, and a few to think I had lost my spine. Being hit from the left and right is just where I want to be.
Don wrote some amazing posts this year. One of my favorites came in the aftermath of the election. In a post entitled “Directionless” he wrote:
What did the first century church do and how do we return to that? They lived under a government that was hostile to their beliefs and claims but were successful and speaking to the culture, one person at a time. They had articulate spokespersons that could articulate the faith in the public square and even at the seat of government (the Apostle Paul, Justin Martyr and others). What all of this really means is that the church in general has to return the ministry of the church, teaching, discipling, training in apologetics and critical thinking) to the main church meetings and prepare its people to carry out the mission of the church, reaching the lost, outside the church where non-believers actually live.
And this one this one in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy:
Evil was a part of Christmas history. Herod killed the children in the village and:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she refused to be comforted,
Because they were no more.”
If we were left there, we would have no hope. Like Jacob Marley, we would have no words of comfort to offer. The other part of the Christmas story is what gives hope in the midst of otherwise overwhelming grief: “…for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23)
For my part, I’m glad Don wrote this. He spoke when I couldn’t find words. That’s just a sample of this years posts. I invite you that if you have just found us on Facebook or otherwise, that you check out all of these posts in the archives of the blog. We’d also like to hear from you, which post impacted your life? Stick around because 2013 is gonna be a blast. After all, the Mayan New-Agers and Harold Camping were both wrong. Though no one knows the hour or the day, we plan to keep writing till Jesus comes. Join us and Happy New Year!