By Justin McLendon
Faculty, College of Theology
Prior to coming to Grand Canyon University, I had the great privilege of pastoring a local church in St. Louis, MO. I love that church and the wonderful people God gave me to shepherd. I also love St. Louis, a great city known for amazing food (three of the top 10 barbecue restaurants in the US are in St. Louis), great baseball and great culture.
Regretfully, most of the country doesn’t think of those qualities (and there are many, many more) when thinking of St. Louis today. As I write this post, the storm is still brewing in St. Louis.
Unfortunately, this is the St. Louis our country has come to know since Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teenager last summer in Ferguson, a suburb north of St. Louis city. Since the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death this year, violent protests have increased, more officer-involved shootings have occurred, damage to private property has escalated and more tear gas fills the night air.
I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering the best responses to what is taking place in a city I love. As I pastored in St. Louis County, I led our church to join in with other area churches to assist first responders, community leaders and volunteers who served our city well during the difficult days of last summer.
The local churches knew they had to act as gospel messengers to a broken city. It simply isn’t consistent for churches to have solid theology without corresponding social engagement.
As Francis Schaeffer said many years ago, “biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” We were able to see churches and believers of various denominations and affiliations join together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to its community.
There was an underlying conviction to this response of St. Louis-area believers. The underlying conviction can be stated simply: God saves sinners from something (ourselves) and God saves us to something (God).
God rescues us from our own idolatry and misery to find our soul’s satisfaction in Him alone. But that’s not all! In salvation, God creates within his people a desire to serve him through the good works he has ordained (Eph. 2:10).
Now that I’m 1500 miles away from St. Louis, my desires for that city haven’t changed and there is a reason for that. The Christian worldview travels. It isn’t restricted to geography, it isn’t focused on certain races or cultures and it isn’t only relevant when all seems well.
The Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys give evidence that a Christian worldview is cohesive and culturally relevant in any context. I’m far removed from what is taking place in St. Louis, but my desires for gospel renewal and cultural flourishing in that city have only intensified.
As we begin a new academic year at GCU, I encourage you to be vigilant in your application of biblical truths and convictions. Your worldview travels.
Continue reading with Andre Mooney’s blog post, Color Blind: Will the Violence Ever Stop?
More about the Author
Dr. McLendon is a native of Clinton, MS. He did his undergraduate studies in interdisciplinary studies (history and political science) at Mississippi State University. He received his MDiv in biblical studies and his PhD in systematic theology from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He is an ordained minister (Southern Baptist Convention), and has pastored and served on church staff for churches in Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri. He is married to Christie, and they have one daughter, Marlee, and twin sons, Joshua and Caleb.