In their jobs, many believers will find themselves alongside unbelievers whose lives revolve around their own attempts at culture-making and world-creating. As we work alongside them we will bear witness to what we learned in Christ and experience as a part of Christ’s body (as Crouch would affirm). But we must not get sucked into thinking that culture-making and world-creating also constitute the center of our lives. In Christ, creation has already been made new and our commission is to show the world the shape of that new creation by filling this planet with Christian communities whose lives together reflect that newness. We must also invite the inhabitants of this world into this new creation and the congregations that inhabit it.
Christians are not responsible for making this world a better place, but for being the better place that this world will never be until Christ returns. It is his role, not ours, to subject all rival creators under his feet and establish the fullness of God’s reign throughout the globe.
The presence of rival creators in this picture should not be underestimated. The church has enemies, and God has not called the church to vanquish those enemies but to love them and to overcome their enmity with goodness. To participate in this victory, which Christ won decisively on the cross, we must continue to wield the power that Christ demonstrated on the cross. The power of the cross is a kind of power to which Crouch pays insufficient attention. Nor does he tend adequately to the power of weakness, smallness, suffering, or faithful minority witness.
More significantly, Crouch does not account for the fact that from Abraham forward God has been asking a people to be less powerful than they could be in order to create space for God to be their strength and power. This is why God positioned the Israelites in Canaan as a people with no standing army or viable alternative to national defense and then forbade them from allying with neighboring nations, even friendly ones. Instead, God goes to great lengths in the conquest and later battles to show the Israelites that God wields power in their stead. For instance, God reduces Gideon’s army from thirty thousand men to three hundred because, in God’s words, “The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand.”
This posture of intentional “disempowerment” in order to create space for the visibility of God’s power continues throughout the Old Testament narrative, is embodied in Christ’s incarnation, and is taken by the Apostle Paul to be central to God’s missionary strategy. It is precisely through weakness and lack of powerful rhetoric that God is able to work powerfully through the apostles and the early church (1 Cor 1-2).