Virtual Voices
Leadership Library (Christ’s Kingdom Commission) and IVP Books (The Art of Helping Others (The Art of Helping Others)

Weekend Reads: Evangelism to kings and through creativity

Books

Christ’s Kingdom Commission: The Strategic Importance of Evangelism to “Kings and All in Authority”

By David J. Andersen

The ministry of the Isaianic Suffering Servant was to be “a light for the nations, that [God’s] salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6, ESV). The same statement appears programmatically in the book of Acts, where the apostles are told to witness in Jerusalem, Samaria, and the “end of the earth.” When the book ends, Paul is in Rome—i.e., “the end of the earth.” All three places are capital cities, so were 15 of the 19 cities evangelized by Paul in Acts. Meanwhile, Christ told His disciples that they would witness before kings (Luke 21:12), the Servant’s ministry was to kings (Isaiah 49:7), and Paul’s most important instruction for the church (“First of all, then, I urge …”) was that it ought to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1–4, ESV). And of course, capital cities are the place to find “kings” and other civil rulers. In brief, this is the argument David Andersen makes in Christ’s Kingdom Commission: The Strategic Importance of Evangelism to “Kings and All in Authority” (Leadership Library, 2013).

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The application is obvious: The church is called to evangelize the political elite, and the method God has commanded begins with prayer. Such prayer is an act of reliance on the goodness of God and the comprehensive scope of His salvific program. When the church prays for anti-Christian leaders, it shows the character of Christ as the one who loves His enemies. When made with the “thanksgivings” that Paul urges, it shows a heart contented with the goodness of God in all circumstances, even those of persecution.

Andersen is a chaplain in the Virginia statehouse, and his argument is compelling. Church leaders and parishioners would do well to direct their prayers toward the salvation of political leaders: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:4, ESV).

The Art of Helping Others: How Artists Can Serve God and Love the World,

By Douglas C. Mann

Douglas Mann is better at having good ideas than at expressing them in prose. His The Art of Helping Others: How Artists Can Serve God and Love the World (IVP Books, 2014) pushes the idea of “creative incitement,” or, in plain English, talking with people. That’s right: Artists can serve God and love the world by having meaningful conversations with the people they encounter. In other words, the book isn’t particularly about being a Christian artist; it’s about being a Christian in your entire life. Admittedly, creative inciters don’t stop there; they translate those conversations into actually helping where and how they can.

Mann’s paintings, a few of which appear in the book, tend to feature high-rises with antennas on top. The antennas signal the modern man’s desperate search for truth—but the churches in his paintings generally lack doors, even when a kite string tangled in the steeple spells “love.”

Though his style suffers from too many euphemisms, Mann’s content is solid. Having quit his high-powered music-industry job, he went to Ireland as a missionary. There, he lived in a bad part of Dublin, where seeing burning cars and starving children became nearly routine. He returned to the United States with a passion for reaching out to those whom we rarely see in comfortable suburban churches. That doesn’t necessarily entail quitting your day job, but it does require you to change your life goal. Don’t pursue success. Pursue the Kingdom of God. Write “a little bit of history by living out the gospel.”

Mann blurs the line between corporate worship in the church and worship in the rest of life. While God encourages creativity, His verdict on innovators in corporate worship is scathing (see Deuteronomy 12:29–32). True worship, like creative incitement in general, revolves around sharing the Word.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb grew up on a ranch in northern Colorado and is currently pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America. He lives in Greenville, S.C.

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