This is a continued reflection on Tony Dungy’s prison trip with Michael Vick and Dan Patrick. While Paul questions what “fellowship can light have with darkness,” when it comes to a yolk-esque relationship like marriage (II Cor 6:14), does that mean He never uses non-believers in building His Kingdom? Has he ever done it in the past? Should we expect him to do it in the future and should we ever partner with non-believers when it comes to common justice issues in our communities?
When Solomon builds the Temple, he employs pagan labor and pagan goods (I Kings 5). In fact, the Sidonians are simply more skilled than the Jews in knowing how to cut timber. Then later comes the Persian King Cyrus, who actually orders the Temple be rebuilt and helps fund it by returning the originally confiscated Temple items taken by Nebucadnezzar (Ezra 1). In addition, their Babylonian and Persian neighbors reached into their pockets to give them all kinds of goods like gold and cattle (though I use “pockets” proverbially with the latter). We’re not talking post cards or things sentimental trinkets to remember their time in Babylon. These gifts made a difference.
God’s ultimate goal was not a building to “house” his special presence and glory. The end picture in Revelation is one of His glory and His will filling up the whole Earth, perfectly and completely as it is in Heaven. God accomplishes this through the preaching of the gospel.
Sometimes unbelievers are hostile to it, and sometimes, they actually play a part in its promotion. At the end of Acts 27, and beginning of Acts 28, you see protection, provision, and hospitality shown to Paul and Luke by an unbelieving soldier and townsfolk.
So if God used unbelievers to partner (although granted it’s not the same sense of “koinonia”) with them through protection and provision, there’s no reason such folks can’t be used to assist in the proclamation of the gospel and the blessing of our cities. I don’t think God has since ruled out using unbelievers alongside believers to bring about His will on Earth as it is in Heaven.
That’s why I think that Dungy using Michael Vick (professing believer) who’s done hard time, and Dan Patrick (not sure of his faith profession) simply because the inmates listen to his show and has credibility was a good idea.
The most impacting thing the Glazer family (Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners) have ever done was to hire Tony Dungy back in 1996. And perhaps the next greatest impact for the city of Tampa was to fire him six years later (after a 9-7 season and first round play-off loss). Not because the team won the super bowl the next year with Jon “Chucky” Gruden, but because God raised up Dungy with the Indianapolis Colts only to give him a further platform to come back and bless the city.
How God uses unbelievers always amazes me and often shatters our separatist paradigms.