It’s a false choice between being a spiritual disciple or a Kuyperian disciple.
He owns all the hills. (photo credit)
In Colossians 3 Paul wrote, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2) But the “things of earth” Paul says not to think about are defined in the next paragraph. “What is earthly in you” are the sinful things such as immorality, impurity, idolatry, and more (see verses 5-11).
When you are filled with the word as it says in Colossians 3:16, go on to Colossians 3:18-4:6. When you are filled with the Spirit as it says in Ephesians 5:18, go on to Ephesians 5:22-6:9. Spouses and kids and salty speech are “things of earth,” not things for us to avoid thinking about, but things that we must think about and do differently because of being indwelt by God’s Word and Spirit. Working hard is a thing to do because of the Bible, not by definition in competition with it. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
As a disciple of Christ I must constantly ask, What does acknowledging Christ’s lordship look like whatever I’m doing? I have been excited about the meaning of discipleship on earth for a while, at least since first studying through Genesis. That excitement has been amplified in a hundred other places, reading history and literature in the Omnibus curriculum, reading about education and culture and family. It all points to the fact that it all matters to God. It is part of our very nature to be interested in things and make things and work and be social. We do not have to feel guilty, we do not have to hide, we do not have to limit our “faithfulness” to church defined activities.
There are, though, turns out, many professing Christians who don’t want to hear about this. Some even disapprove of the above as a “worldly” mindset.
There are a least a couple possible reasons for this chiding. One is fear. If everything matters to God, then I will have to think about everything, and care about everything, and answer to Him for everything. It is more comfortable to be lazy, or even to be inconsistent. We might even try to convince ourselves that it is better just to live with some level of guilt for pursuing all the things we’ve decided to define as not mattering to Him. The Kuyperian worldview offers relief, until realizing that the standard was just raised, and raised universally. Thinking about our own work, all of it, as mattering to God is an almost unbearable glory. But it is glory. It is also biblical, and it is the worst to squirrel ourselves away under the pretense of loving Scripture while ignoring large parts of it.
Another reason for rejecting this Kuyperian mindset may pose as faithfulness, but is really just pride. Perhaps we could call it “Christian narcissism,” which cannot be redeemed by the adjective. Men are always looking to justify themselves. Others desire a sort of power or control over others. Christian men, or at least some who profess to be such, are no different. It is easier to measure your likeness to Christ by how many chapters of the Bible you read today. It is easier to claim power over someone if you can convince them that their soul depends on doing what you say is right. But there are so many things outside of the theology department that, in order to manipulate with any hope of success, you have to narrow it down to something manageable, like spiritual disciplines and church-run events. Pastors, even in the Protestant tradition, have led the way in this duping.
So we must repent. We must read all of the verses and not just the ones that other people aren’t doing. We must also let God be God and let Him call different men to different things that we don’t control, nor that we judge.
Not only is this Kuyperian worldview not a retreat, it shows our position on top of the hill. He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and He owns all the hills. We, with Christ, assume the center. We should think and talk downhill. The world may act as if they have the lock on the outside of the door to the theology department, but they’re bluffing.
Also, this is not Postmillennialism. We do not think that we are making the world a better place for Jesus to return and rule. Like Israel—somewhat ironically for the point I’m making—in Egypt before the exodus, we will continue to grow and multiply and that will make the surrounding pagans nervous. We won’t win in every way the world defines as winning, but we will be delivered. This is Dispensational, and more on that in the posts to come.