We re-signed the lease on our little house for another year. It’s nice to know that we will still be here this time next year. So nice.
On a totally different note (hence the divider line) I am reading Tim Keller’s book, King’s Cross, and wanted to share a little of it with you. It is about the king (Jesus) and his cross and what that means for all for us. He goes through the book of Mark in order to examine the person of Jesus and the event of the cross. Anywho, at one point in the book he makes an interesting point about Christianity. I’ve often heard that Christianity is different from the other world religions because it is all about what Christ has done for us, rather than what we humans do for God. Keller brings up another interesting difference I hadn’t thought about before. It is that, unlike the other major world religions, the geographical center of Christianity has changed over time.
Islam started in Arabia, at Mecca, and the Middle East is still the center of Islam today. Buddhism started in the far East, and that’s still the center of Buddhism. So too with Hinduism–it began in India and it is still predominantly an Indian religion. Christianity is the exception; Christianity is always moving, always on a pilgrimage (p. 123).
Originally it started in Jerusalem with the Hebrews, then moved to the Mediterranean where it stayed for a few centuries. Then it moved to the Northern Europeans where it rested amongst them for thousands of years (including hopping over to North America). In the 20th century Christianity receded in Europe and North America, while it began to exponentially grow in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. In those countries, according to Keller’s sources, it has been growing at up to ten times the population growth rate. “More than 50 percent of Christians in the world now live in the southern hemisphere” (p. 124). Isn’t that so interesting?
Keller quotes Andrew Walls in saying that this is because “there is a certain vulnerability, a fragility, at the heart of Christianity. You might say that this is the vulnerability of the cross” (p. 124). The cross is about giving up power and serving rather than taking power and wealth. Walls also thinks that “when Christianity is in a place of power and wealth for a long period of time, the radical message of sin and grace and the cross can become muted or even lost” (p.124). That’s when Christianity become just about nice, safe religion for respectable people trying to be good. It then becomes dormant and so the center moves somewhere else.
That seems to definitely be what is happening in our country. While I was at Baylor I went to Kenya on a short-term mission trip with my church. I was struck by the amount of faith and passion for the gospel that the believers over there had that seemed to be so lacking in many of America’s churches. I feel like I was more ministered to than the other way around.
Anywho, that’s just something interesting to think about.
And that’s a picture of good ol’ Tim with his book. And yes, that is New York in the background. Tim Keller is a pastor at a church in NYC. He is a great communicator and has tons of free sermons to download on his website, including a whole section of sermons about why a person should believe in the God of the Bible — why Christianity makes sense. He is very easy to listen to and to read.
And no, he did not pay me to advertise for him here on my blog.
(Writing this post felt like writing a research paper–what with all the embedded quotes and paraphrasing and such)