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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

Four Upside Down Perspectives

I can find no better words than this to describe the Bible, and its expectations: upside down! One cannot extract them from the Gospel and still have a Biblical Gospel. And leadership cannot simply say God has led us, or God has told us without great concentration and even course correction from these four things.

The eternal dominates time.

God’s perspective is always well beyond our human perspective. We are enamored with ourselves too often. We live life as if we are the only ones who have ever existed, and therefore, our good, our wants, our needs, are all “front and center” to our daily lives.

But to God, as the apostle Peter says, “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). Once Adam and Eve rebelled against Him, we, all of us, have lived in a fallen world, not the world that God had designed for us.

This world has to die in order for the world that God originally designed, to come to be. As the Bible so eloquently says, our bodies have to die and this world has to die along with us, for righteousness, without rebellion, sin, pain, and marring to be brought in. (cf. Romans, 8, 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Peter 3, Revelation 21)

Those who have been reconciled to God, in Jesus Christ, have been moved from one kingdom to another; from one rule of order to another. Whereas we were enemies of God, members of the kingdom of darkness and disobedience, we have been moved into relationship with God, and made representatives of Him and His rule of order, righteousness.

We are responsible to keep our eyes on eternity; our true home

The global dwarfs the local.

This does not mean that the local, its “lostness” and our church needs, are completely unimportant. But, the degree of emphasis that we have placed upon them is greatly out of balance to God’s concern for salvation in the Gospel, to and for the nations.

God is on a mission! You can find more on this thought in the last chapter of Renovation: A Survey on Divine Design in the Life of the Church, on my website

The last words of Jesus to His disciples and, through them, to us were that we should go and make disciples of every nation (see Matt. 28:19). We see this sending in every one of the Gospels and also in the last words of Jesus in Acts 1:8: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus’ disciples have responded to this commandment from our Lord for more than two thousand years in their own places, generations, and ways. This includes those who arose out of the Reformation to take their place with those who had already given their hearts, minds, wills, and lives to the completion of God’s salvation promise and the crystal-clear good news humankind has in Jesus.

All these former generations died without seeing what was anticipated in the words of Jesus—that the gospel would find its way into the entire world and that we could then expect the end of the rebellion even as we anticipate a new heaven and a new earth (see Matt. 24:14).

But we live in a different time, a time in which I believe we cannot do much more to effectively see the final scenario come to pass. I know of no other time in Christian history when so many people from so many places have been confessing followers of Jesus. The church is bigger today than many in past generations would ever have believed possible and bigger than too many of us today realize.

Of course, the fact that the Lord has not returned means that our task is not completely done. There are certainly still people, either in the few pre-Christian places still awaiting the gospel or in post-Christian places, who have yet to come to salvation.

If we cannot be moved by the command of Scripture to make disciples of all nations, we ought at least, be sobered into action to realize that while we as Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population and probably no more than 1 or 2 percent of the world’s confessing Christians, we have so many assets that could certainly be used for the gospel in other places. When we realize that the church exits to take the gospel to the world, surely that should temper our self-centeredness and dictate a more appropriate focus of our lives and resources.

When we better understand the global as compared to the local, from God’s perspective, we will do a much better job of not overspending on our programs, staffs and buildings. Our clear out of balance investment in these things, declares that we have not yet captured the centrality of the global.

The Bible dominates our focus

Without apology I have said that the Bible is the primary antidote to all of our true needs. Sermons, worship, DVDs, film series, books, are all, ALL, inferior to what God has better designed to be accomplished through His word, fed daily into all of His children through the instructive, correcting, healing, and maturing ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It is our greatest weakness, and our greatest danger, that so few confessing Christians, spend so little time in it. And, of even greater danger, is that so many who say that they belong to Jesus have no intentions of living by it words.

At the end of his life the apostle Peter said, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.” (2 Peter 1:12-13). The facts of the primary story in the Bible are not long or complicated. But, the implications to the totality of the new life we have are immense.

“If we do no recover the sufficiency of the Word of God in our time, if we do not relearn what it means to be sustained by it, nourished by it, disciplined by it, and unless our preachers find the courage again to preach its truth, to allow their sermons to be defined by its truth, we will lose our right to call ourselves Protestants, we will lose our capacity to be the people of God, and we will set ourselves on a path that leads right into the old discredited liberal Protestantism. We have to recover a vivid other worldliness by making ourselves once again captives to the truth of God regardless of the cultural consequences.”

We must never allow the daily focus of our lives to be built by anything other than time in God’s word. We must never allow our wills to be given to anything but the new life that is ministered by the Spirit. Only in a daily time in God’s word can these things be most effectively done. Those of us who lead must not allow the many things that we create and administer to get in the way of the saints building this lifestyle.

Stewardship is why we live.

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them two distinctive essences that were not given to anything else that He created: first relationship with Him, and second, the right, the ability to represent Him. As followers of Jesus Christ, everything we “possess” belongs to God.

It belongs to God in the first place because He made it. For Christians, it further belongs to God not only because He made it, but now we are prepared to embrace His purpose for us in this world: to represent His image, and to administer His creation. And, so we progressively and joyfully hold all of the assets He gives to each one of us in our hands anticipating that the Holy Spirit will daily instruct us where, how and how much to “spend” on others.

It is no different for churches, as they are merely the accumulation of Jesus followers. They too are stewards of what belongs to God. They steward His image in His children by cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see them built into people who daily grow to look and act like Jesus. And, they steward the assets He places in their for the expansion of His kingdom.


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