Being the Bad Guy
A chap named, Stephen McAlpine, recently delivered a stimulating webinar called, Being the Bad Guys. This was hosted by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FEIC) for pastors in the UK.
Over at stephenmcalpine.com, Steve is an uber-blogger. He’s like an Australian version of Tim Challies (and, of course, Tim reads Steve). Steve is part of the leadership of Providence Church, a network of congregations in and around Perth, Australia.
His recent book is, Being the Bad Guys: How to Live For Jesus in a World that Says You Shouldn’t (reviewed here). The title for his webinar (and book) comes from Michael Douglas’ role in the movie, Falling Down, a character who is surprised to find himself the bad guy. McAlpine says the Christian is now the bad guy.
I agree that Christians in the West need to make a shift from doing gospel ministry in which others are favorably or neutrally disposed to the church, to a setting in which others are negatively disposed towards the church. The gospel doesn’t change, but we proclaim that gospel in word and deed from the vantage of being bad guys. He revitalizes the metaphor of Francis Schaeffer that the church is surrounded by a culture that does not have a second floor, that is, a transcendent understanding of life. To those who do not follow Jesus, all of life is lived without the sacred.
Yet, our culture is still yearning for that second floor. McAlpine cleverly uses the image of El Greco’s The Opening of the Fifth Seal as a metaphor for this. In this painting, the Apostle John, is looking into heaven, arms raised high, as he receives revelation from God. The top of the painting, however, is missing. Where El Greco would have had Christ sitting on His throne, well, this part was ripped off when the painting was removed. Jesus is gone. And yet, the world around us is filled with people who are yearning for more, but without Christ.
He ponders, can the church engage with the culture while saying to others you cannot have what you yearn for without having Jesus? Can we lovingly assert with our words and our lives that self-fulfillment does not lead to flourishing?
~ John Jones