We Christians might view the world as only evil and harmful. Safety from the world might be our goal. Separating from the world is seen as good Christian faithfulness.
The authors want to see that focus change. They argue that we are to see the world as loved by God. Though broken, God invites us to live in it redemptively, to be ambassadors of reconciliation. We are to be a part of the work of God to restore all things. That's what this book is about.
Christians are encouraged to influence their communities by providing real services and engaging people. The strategy the authors employ is to identify what is good in the world that we can celebrate, what is missing in the culture that we can contribute, what is evil in the world that we can stop, and what is broken that we can restore.
The authors give many stories of grassroots efforts that confronted local needs and made a significant difference. They also investigate the biblical mandates. The topics they cover include poverty, capitalism, abortion, exploited women, education, the criminal system, race, higher education, sexual identity, suffering, marriage, adoption, and art.
The authors hope that the stories will inspire us to join in God's work so that the world will again become familiar with the redemptive work of Christ and be drawn to Him. At the end of every chapter, they include suggested actions to become part of God's restorative work.
The stories the authors include are very inspiring. They range from large corporate influence to work individual Christians and small groups accomplish. The authors encourage us to look at our gifts, abilities and passions and then identify the cultural area of brokenness that needs what we have. However we might think to serve our community, there is a story that inspires us to get at it and be faithful to God's work.
This book would be a great choice for an “all church reads” kind of event. At the least, this book should be read by church leaders, administrators, small group leaders, pastors, well, just about anyone who cares about the cultural influence of Christians today. The book is very encouraging in pointing out that there are Christians doing a wonderful job of serving the needs in their community, introducing people to the redemptive work of Jesus. It is also an inspiration, identifying areas of cultural brokenness and then giving reasonable suggestions as to how we can become ambassadors of God's redemptive work.
Warren Cole Smith is the vice president of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD magazine, and producer of the nationally syndicated radio programs The World and Everything in It and Listening In. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
John Stonestreet is a speaker and fellow with the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the voice of two nationally syndicated radio commentaries: BreakPoint (with Eric Metaxas) and The Point. He and his wife have three daughters and live in Colorado Springs.
Baker Books, 240 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest and independent review.