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Volume 15, Issue 2: Eschaton

Strategic Optimism, Pt. 2

Jack Van Deventer

In the last article I noted that optimism presumes victory and only those with an optimistic worldview have any real hope of transforming churches, families, communities, and cultures. We discussed five aspects of church and community life that needed development or transformation:

1. Recovery of worship.
2. Pastors as shepherds.
3. Godly church leadership.
4. A theology of Christian living.
5. A flourishing parish life.
In this article, we'll look at five additional areas of transformation with regard to family life:
6. Fathers who lead. Male headship of the family is beginning to recover within certain segments of the Christian church, and such progress must take place against the grain of the prevailing pagan culture. Believe it or not, there used to be a popular TV show called "Father Knows Best." Since then our male role models have transitioned to whiny and pathetic examples like Heathcliff Huxtable and Homer Simpson. Even the relatively macho actors in the movies are unable to control their hormonal passions. More and more, the action heroes of the entertainment world are female "warrior princess" types with alarmingly high levels of testosterone. Godly leadership in the home begins with a biblical commitment to one's family and church. It is a life of self-sacrifice and initiative, one that instills in one's wife and children a hope in Christ and knowledge of God's promises. The godly father leads his family into faithfulness.
7. Children who love their parents. Covenantal faithfulness from generation to generation is a promise from God. Christian parents who saturate their children in the faith, hope, and love of God's Word should expect to see their children flourish in the faith. The promise of Proverbs 22:6 is every Christian parent's assurance: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." King Lemuel's words in Proverbs 31, are the words his mother taught him as a child. Here is a king who learned his wisdom on his mother's knee. When he describes the virtuous wife in that same chapter one wonders if the picture painted is that of the virtue he saw in his own mother.
8. Christian education. Christian education is an imperative. The last twenty years have seen tremendous growth in Christian education, with large numbers of Christians opting out of government education and replacing it with a true and biblical education. The early results are impressive. Thousands of godly, respectful, well-educated young people are infiltrating society in a most remarkable manner. Nevertheless, this recovery of Christian education has a long way to go. First and foremost, churches must come to the conviction that education is the duty of parents, not the government. Pastors need to preach the necessity of a rigorous and biblical education. One of the practical and central concerns of Christian schools and homeschoolers is how to pay for the educational services they provide. How can we effectively pay to educate our children when thousands of our hard-earned dollars are taken from us in the form of taxes that fund an ungodly government educational system that undermines Christian beliefs? Some Christian churches have chosen to subsidize education efforts as best they can, but ultimately Christians need to work to stop the coercive taxation which funds the government educational machine. In the meantime we must seek God's forgiveness and pray that He lift this chastisement.
9. Economic dominion. The church has advanced on many fronts in the last few decades. We've seen progress in a recovery of biblical preaching, the singing of psalms, more Christ-centered worship, and advances in Christian education. Over time we should begin seeing Christians advance in economic leadership, entrepreneurship, and economic innovation as well. At this point in time too many Christians are financially dependent on pagans for loans and employment. We need to ask God to free us from such dependence. With regard to personal indebtedness, to illustrate how far we've fallen, consider the words of Charles Spurgeon from more than a century ago: "Without debt, without care; out of debt, out of danger; but owing and borrowing are bramble bushes full of thorns. Scripture says, `Owe no man anything,' which does not mean pay your debts, but never have any to pay. My opinion is, that those who break this law ought to be turned out of the Christian church."1 Spurgeon understood what our culture does not. We've got a lot of ground to recover in the financial realm.
10. Cultural transformation. Because worship is central to everything we do, cultural transformation will not take place apart from a recovery of true worship. On the Lord's Day we gather collectively to lift our praises, confess our sins, sing psalms and hymns, hear the Word preached, partake of the sacraments, and raise our hands before God Almighty. Worship and the accompanying Sabbath celebration should be the highlight of our week, a time of rejoicing and reverence. Our children should look forward to this day with great anticipation. And in the interim, father-led family worship around the dinner table should be a delight as well. The world has no defense against the transformational effect of the Word of God, the worship service, or the preaching of the gospel. We should not be surprised to see the kingdom of God growing like a mustard seed and becoming a large tree.

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