Over the past several weeks will have talked about how Christians should work to advance the causes of Christ within the context of the church. We have looked at the great objects of the Kingdom of God - things such as evangelism and education - and discussed how we as the redeemed should work together in cooperation and as good stewards to accomplish them most effectively.
For the next few weeks we will turn our attention to the world, and how we as Christians should work with and engage our secular culture. We will move outside of the confines of church life and church relationships. We’ll ask… how do we as believers relate to the lost? How do we work within a hostile society to better it and make it more like Christ? How do we stand against the sin of our fallen civilization while demonstrating God’s grace and love toward sinners? The BF&M includes the following doctrinal statement...
All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in
human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of
righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the
regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ,
Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual
immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the
orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the
unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian
should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of
righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to
work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without
compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.
This morning we will briefly consider our inclination toward society, our influence on society, and our involvement in society.
As Christians we should maintain a certain inclination, or position, toward society. First, we must acknowledge the fallen nature of the world around us. Our society is evil, it is sinful, it is wicked, it is corrupt. All of mankind
and the institutions of men are tainted by sin. Sin is pervasive, and evidence of its disastrous effects abound. Any honest reading of Scripture reveals clearly that God hates sin. The world tries to sugar coat it, but the just and holy nature of God declares and demands that He insist on moral purity. As Christians, we too should oppose sin and stand up for the cause of Christ even in the midst of a hostile environment.
But what sins should we oppose? Many modern churches seem to select some sins to rally against while barely mentioning others. The two that garner the most attention from today's pulpits are homosexuality and abortion. Now, please don't take me wrong because I agree that the Bible clearly reveals that both of these are acts of sin, but what about adultery, gossip, idolatry, deceit, bitterness, slander, and so on? All sin - not just a few "pet" sins - are an affront to God and we must be extremely careful when we begin comparing them one with another. All people are sin-sick, infected by the spiritual disease of sin - and it is eternally terminal. True, we must stand up for those who are victims of sin, but from a heavenly perspective this includes us all - the abused and the abuser, the persecuted and the persecutor, the despised and the despiser. Yes, it is easier to love the victim than the criminal - but we must love them both. We must oppose all sin, yet loving contend for all sinners.
As we strive to have a Godly influence on society, we must begin by making His will our own. It is God's written will that no one perish, but that all come to repentance. Therefore we should make this our primary objective - to lead all people to Jesus. The only way to truly improve society is to win it to Christ. Trying to influence people to act morally and righteously, apart from knowing Jesus, is futile. We might make temporary strides, but they will not last. Ultimately this world does not need behavior modification, it needs the LORD! If we try to change someone’s behavior without changing their beliefs, they will resent us and resist us. But if we influence someone and they change their beliefs, then they will voluntarily, willingly, and eagerly change their behavior. We must quit trying to force morality on society, and instead seek to show them Christ in us.
It is God’s desire that we as Christians be “in the world” - He leaves us here for a reason. To be in the world means than we should be involved in the activities of the world and associated with the people of the world (while maintaining our faithfulness to Christ). We are not called to withdraw from the world, but rather to engage it with the gospel! As we work with people - both righteous and unrighteous - in the various institutions of society we must "let our light shine". When people see us living and loving like Jesus did, they will be attracted to it. We must remember that our purpose isn't merely to "clean up the culture" - this is not the reason Christ came, and it is not the commission of the church. Our ultimate goal must always be to lead people to Jesus.
And so yes... absolutely, we as believers should work to make the world a better place - it is a noble and worthy endeavor. We should oppose sin while loving sinners. But the improvement of society for society's sake is a fool's game - after all, this world is passing away. The only way to bring about meaningful change is to lead the world to salvation. Working to rectify the moral decay around us is merely a treating of the symptoms - this world needs the cure. This world needs Jesus!