Monday, April 07, 2014

BookPastor >> "Unfashionable" (Tullian Tchividjian)

TITLE: Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different
AUTHOR: Tullian Tchividjian
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Waterbrook Multnomah, 2009, (224 pages).

What's fashionable for the world is not necessarily appropriate for the Church. What's appropriate for the Church is often despised and rejected by the world. The problem with the Church is that it has become prey to the expectations of worldliness. Christians are called to make a difference by being different, not similar to the world. They are called to be a witness for Christ. The key thesis of the book is this: "Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don't make a difference by being the same."


That's another way of describing Jesus' warning to us that any salt that loses its saltiness is useless.  What I really appreciate is Tchividjian's initial list of ten "fashionable" things Christians do, how he first critiques the many subtle tendencies Christians have to adapt to the world instead of adapting to Christ. Written in four parts, Tchividjian shouts through the pages of the book with this phrase: "Christian! In Christ, you are already different."

Part One is about our Calling that we are called to be the people of God that the world will tend to reject. If the world has wholeheartedly rejected Christ, will the disciples of Christ be treated any better? For the sake of the world, live out our calling! He warns us against shallow interpretations of the world's needs. Rather than trying to make ourselves look like the rest of the world, we need to be aware that the world is looking out for meaning amid an atmosphere of emptiness.People are finding relevance increasingly irrelevant.  They want people to be fashionable on the outside, but deep inside, they are crying out for a difference. The obedient will not be easily seduced by the world, but will hang on to the call.

Part Two is about the Commission as stated in Scripture. We are not to be surprised at the way the world treats Christians. Better to be unfashionable to the world and be obedient to the Word. Better to against the world and be accused, so that we are better able to communicate the truth of God. Better to be used to participate in the expansion of the kingdom of God, to be in the world even as we are not of this world. We are urged not to be culturally removed, not to be too relaxed about it, and to be united in mission mindedness over and above tribal mindedness. I really like what the author says:
"We work at becoming together what God wants the rest of the world to become. The purpose of God's people is to show a watching world what one day will fill the whole earth." (112)
Part Three expands on the above through six marks of what a community in Christ looks like. This is the single biggest witness of the gospel. First, by demonstrating its truthfulness to one another, the community of God will learn to embody, to live out, to testify the unity of God's people. Second, as a community grows more toward sharing the heart of God, one learns to be as angry as God is, and to be aware of the difference between self-centered anger and God-centered rage. The third mark of a community of God is one that refuses to steal but prefers to be generous to one another. The fourth mark is a redemptive emphasis the community can do through graciousness, encouragement, and godliness. The fifth mark is kindness especially in the area of learning to speak the truth in love. Our testimony as a unique community can be visible through the way we treat one another. Ultimately, the way forward for relationships is to build on on love not lust.

Part Four is a charge for us to live out our calling regardless of how fashionable or unfashionable we are. It is a short one chapter that gives some examples of the saints of old who refuse to tamper their own testimony to suit the world but to remain faithful to the original calling and design God has given them.

So What?

This is a simple book with a tough message that Christians are not to be lukewarm or cool. They are called to be red-hot for God even when it means rejection by the world. We are not called to fit into the world's systems in order to make friends with them. We are called to be God's kingdom people to the world that people would want to come and make friends with us. It is a great reminder for us to remember that if we do not stand up for Christ, no one would. There is no need to dumb down ourselves simply because the world do not accept us. We are not in the business to make the world accept us. For we carry a calling from God to be what God has made us to be, not what the world want to mold us into. For the Christian, being unfashionable to the world is to be expected. Tchividjian is right. We can only make a difference in this world not by sameness but by being counter cultural. I remember vividly an example of an international ministry leader who shared about their ministry being like a mini United Nations. The only difference is that: "We are united."

That is so true of what a Christian community is all about. As the world bickles and quarrels with one another, Christians can set an example to live, to grow, and to become a united community in Christ.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


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