Advance the Gospel at Advent

It seems that the Advent season provides an unprecedented opportunity to “bring up” biblical truths in conversation not typically afforded to us at other times of the year. Do you consider yourself to be someone who could have an impact for the gospel of Jesus where you work? During this Christmas season, what has been the talk around the water cooler? If your workplace allows “holiday music” to be played have you considered pointing out the meaning of the theologically rich lyrics of some of the Christmas Carols? Even if your workplace or institution disallows such music or decorations even the antagonism toward the Christ of Christmas begs the question, “Why, what’s the threat?” A discussion over such a question could yield great opportunities to point desperate hearts to Christ. Are you a student? Have you thought through how God might use your gifts in a future career? Are you aiming high so as to leverage your talents and skills for the greatest impact for the gospel on your sphere of influence? Could that gospel influence in the place you aspire to work have an even greater impact in shaping the culture in your city and your country? The birth narratives of Jesus show us that God orchestrates governors and governments, and even the cosmos to bring about his purposes. In his new Advent devotional John Piper writes,

Luke shows God influencing the entire Roman Empire so that the census comes at the exact time to get a virgin to Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy with her delivery. Matthew shows God influencing the stars in the sky to get foreign magi to Bethlehem so that they can worship him. This is God’s design. He did it then. He is still doing it now. His aim is that the nations—all the nations (Matthew 24:14)—worship his Son. This is God’s will for everybody in your office at work, and in your neighborhood and in your home. As John 4:23 says, “Such the Father seeks to worship him.”[1]

If God uses the unwilling, how much more will he use his willing servant? How might God influence you to in turn influence your spheres of influence for the gospel of Jesus and the glory of God? I guess what I’m getting at here is, don’t sell yourself short. God has put you in specific spheres of influences and will put you in influential places, and could potentially put you in very influential places for his own purposes if you would surrender to him and aim high with excellence for the glory of His name. Not for your glory. Not for your fame. God doesn’t call you to be famous, just faithful. Consider the influence of our brother in Christ, the late William Stuntz. Timothy Keller writes,

A good case study of Christian cultural engagement and impact is the late William Stuntz, formerly professor of criminal law at Harvard Law School. Though he was an evangelical Christian and conservative Republican who was open about his faith and politics, when he died of cancer at the age of fifty-two, The New York Times paid him a remarkable tribute with a full op-ed piece on its editorial main page by Lincoln Caplan. It said that his scholarship in the area of criminal law was so strong that he had refuted the other thinkers and had a “profound” influence on the field. One of his accomplishments, according to the writer, was the incorporation of mercy to the marginalized without undermining rule of law. And yet the writer recognized that his arguments were not just skillful, but grounded in his Christian beliefs. While “literally defining the field,” Caplan wrote, “he was living his faith.” The piece also pointed to his inspiring example as he deal courageously with cancer and faced his impending death with grace.

Here we see a man who definitely engaged and influenced culture, brought his faith and its distinctive worldview to bear on the field of law, did it with undeniable excellence, and showed compassion for the poor within his theories of justice. In spite of the fact that he worked in places that largely disdained the Christian faith, the combination of his clear commitment to the common good, the integration of his faith with his scholarship, and his undeniable skill and excellence combined to make a real difference…William Stuntz… did his work first at the University of Virginia and later at Harvard, two major institutions with a lot of “symbolic” or cultural capital…Many Christians share with many Americans an anti-institutional bias, and therefore they grossly underestimate the power of institutions to shape culture. However, in the case of William Stuntz, Christian excellence was available for all to see precisely because he functioned in one of the main public cultural institutions. All of the biblical warnings against pride, love of wealth, and hunger for power must be kept in mind, and not all cultural change automatically flows from elite circles at the very top. But Christians should still seek to be a faithful presence in the major cultural institutions.[2]

God orchestrates governors and governments, Maji and stars, and even Harvard Law professors, CEO’s, journalists, artists, movie-makers, teachers, bankers, surgeons, city councils, those in the service industry, you name it, He uses his people where they where He has planted them to bring about his purposes. How will he use you?

 

[1] John Piper, Good News of Great Joy, (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2013) 16-17.

[2] Tim Keller, Center Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012) 239-240.