Jan 27

Reclaiming the Spheres of Influence … posted by Yuen Woh Voon on Jan 27, 2012

Is it possible that a government like the one in the US might actually one day persecute Christians? Many may think it impossible but there are those inside the US who fear that not only is this possible but the process leading to a full-blown persecution of the true church of Jesus Christ has already begun.

The actual situation in the US or any other nation is best known to church leaders within that nation so let’s pray for wisdom for them to guide their own flocks in how best to respond at each initiative of the persecutors.

6 Spheres of Influence

In his book, Lord of All, Developing a Christian World-and-Life View, Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe cite the work of Dutch theologian, Hermann Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) and Dutch Prime Minister and theologian, Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), where they summised that God’s sovereignty extended to different spheres of existence or spheres of life. These six different spheres of life that every Christian should be vitally interested in and should be working to Christianize are:

  1. World
  2. Humanity
  3. Nation
  4. School
  5. Church
  6. Family

Every Christian church should be endeavouring to do what it can to strengthen each of these great spheres.

7 Mountains of Influence

More recently, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, discovered over lunch, that God had simultaneously given each of them a message to give to the other: “The culture is shaped by seven mind-molders or mountains in society. If we can influence each of these areas for Christ, we will win the culture of our nation.”

Os Hillman, in his book “Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture” challenges Christians to reclaim the 7 spheres (“mountains”) of influence that the church has steadily lost ground on. These 7 “mountains” are:

  1. Arts/Entertainment
  2. Business
  3. Education
  4. Family
  5. Government
  6. Media
  7. Religion.

In Malaysia

Let me share with you about my own nation. For the last 30 years or so, the church has been rather withdrawn when it comes to influencing society and its various “spheres.” God’s sovereignty over these spheres was neither taught from the pulpits nor highlighted to motivate young people in their career choices. With certain exceptions, church leaders did not encourage their congregation members to take active roles in these spheres of influence and their activities centered only on the church and its peripheral ministries. The Christians had slowly but surely surrendered their influence in society.

For example, in my country, Christians have stayed away from the teaching profession in government-funded schools for the last two to three decades. Recruitment and promotional prospects favoured the majority race and many Christians chose careers other than in public school education. These schools form the majority of schools in our nation. Consequently, the Christian influence in education diminished significantly, even though in times past, the mission schools in our nation were the premier schools.

The situation is similar in the other spheres of influence.

When Christian influence diminished, it was easy for the government media to portray the Christians in a bad light and then subsequently to take the actions that trampled on the rights of the Christian community. These actions included restricting the words that Christians can use when referring to God and restricting the distribution of Bibles in Malay, the Muslim-majority language.

World Evangelical Alliance Report

A World Evangelical Alliance report states, “Some of the rights most often compromised where religious freedom is lacking are freedom of speech and press, freedom of association and movement, equality before the law, the right to life, liberty and security of person, freedom from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment, and the right to work.”

This report further adds that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

“No doubt, many people would find it surprising, even unbelievable that at the beginning of the 21st century the largest faith group being persecuted is the Christian faith. It has been estimated that over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied fundamental human rights solely because of their faith. Moreover, persecution of Christians often serves as an indicator of the status of religious freedom for other minorities since where Christians are persecuted other religions tend also to suffer. Discrimination and persecution have been found to follow a distinct pattern regardless of who is being persecuted.”

Steps to Persecution

The first slippery step is disinformation that often leads to the second step, discrimination, which can finally end in a slide into persecution. At each step, the role of the state and its agencies may be passive or active.”

The slide toward persecution hits bottom when the state and its agencies become active participants in destroying or confiscating property, arresting or incarcerating religious minorities, torturing or executing believers because of their faith tradition. At this point, the offending state not only violates the long-standing universal principle of human behaviour as seen in the Golden Rule, but is in direct violation of international standards as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter and elsewhere.

Hope on the Mountain

Let us reclaim these great spheres and mountains of influence so that the message of the Cross can again be proclaimed loud and clear.

“Go, tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”

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