How do Christ followers make an impact on the world? Do we isolate ourselves by creating a false sense of security in a sequestered bubble in hopes that our influence might be felt from far away through the various means that we have? How do we exercise the wisdom that God has given us to make a difference in the world and culture around us?
Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, looks at Solomon and his wisdom in his latest book, “The Mind of God.” Johnson introduces the reader to the seven mountains or spheres of influence: family, religion, economy, education, government, arts and media, and science and technology. He shares about how we can influence the world around us, our culture, by having an impact in these areas.
The church is not a building, we’ve probably heard it said at least once in our lifetime. Do those words resound in who we are and do they actually mean something when it comes to our actions as the church of Jesus Christ? Do we influence people so that they will come be part of our church or so that they can become part of the kingdom of God? Johnson shares his own church’s experience with meeting people where they are and influencing them for Jesus Christ. He writes, “Our job as believers is to excel as servants in realms of wisdom, that they world around us might benefit and see the kindness of the Lord drawing them to repentance and relationship with him.”
We are called to serve without agenda, as Johnson writes, the more we serve the city for the sake of the city, “the more the city opens up to the message we carry.” When we have ulterior motives or some hidden agenda, it won’t remain as hidden as we might like. Instead, we need to love people as Jesus loves them in order that our message might be compelling, not seen as a slogan or sale pitch, but rather as a true motivation that moves us and propels us with the love of Christ.
It is evident throughout this book that Johnson comes from a more Charismatic background. That’s not a pejorative statement, simply an observation. Anyone familiar with Bethel Church most likely knows the controversy swirling around it because of what some consider to be questionable theology. Reading this book, there was nothing that indicated to me that the divergence in theology was in any essential areas that would make me stand up and cry, “Heresy!” A few head scratching moments that made me wonder, but not enough for me to think that all of the criticism that has been heaped at Bethel is justified.
I read a lot of books and this book was tough to get through. I’m not quite sure why that is though. I don’t know whether it was the season in which I found myself when I read it. The subject matter was of interest to me, but Johnson struggled to hold my attention for long periods of time.
Johnson had some really good things to say about how the church can and should influence the culture in which it finds itself and the wisdom it takes to accomplish that. While there were great nuggets throughout the entire book, the overall book didn’t “Wow” me in such a way that I would highly recommend it to people. It’s a worthy read, but not an essential read. The nuggets that I did find and highlighted felt significant, just not as frequently found as I would have liked.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge by Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)