Should the Church Be a Mere Sideline Observer of World Social Events?
By Ramon Arias
Cycles in nature are important to the world we live in. No matter how uncomfortable they may be at times, they bring great benefits. There are other cycles not related to nature. The cycles I am referring to are those that produce enormous social instability and destruction caused by human beings. It seems as though generation after generation refuses to learn from past mistakes. Maybe this Spanish proverb will help illustrate what I mean: "Man is the only animal that stumbles over the same rock twice."
Society is constantly at war and I don’t mean the kind of war that is fought with weapons that kill people and destroy property. I am referring to a war that causes even greater destruction to good human social development than lethal weapons do; the cultural war. Every cultural war is a war of ideas that battles for the mind and belief system of human beings and the ideas that the majority embraces will ultimately determine the kind of society they will live in. The ideas that one generation establishes will be the foundation that future generations will continue to build upon. All the misfortune and social imbalance that people live in is none other than the result of false beliefs.
As painful as recognizing this might be it is not a good enough reason to continue to ignore it. The church that Jesus Christ founded is constantly deviating from the original commission to be salt and light and to be an educator to the nations to impulse them to stability and social progress. In the 2000 years of the church’s existence, history reveals it triumphs when it adheres closely to the Commandments of God. But, history also reveals the oppression and destruction that occurs when the church abandons its original commission and veers toward doctrinal corruption in its efforts to build its own kingdom which only results in death and destruction, sometimes for several generations. Another one of the church's disastrous contributions is to produce members that are ill-equipped and poorly taught. They are totally lacking in understanding the new faculties each born-again believer has received in Jesus Christ to produce the much-desired fruit by God so that He may bring about changes on the personal, family, and social levels.
The Church Should Not Flee from Social Conflict
The government of God and Jesus Christ are totally engaged in a war for the hearts and minds of people. The new people of God, called the church, were born out of severe conflict with the religious establishment of the Jews and a strong polytheistic, political and philosophical Roman Empire of their time. Jesus was very clear to point out that this conflict would continue throughout centuries until the victory was secured and God’s will would manifest itself on earth as it is in heaven. This is why He said, “… and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). The rock is the revelation of God's knowledge applied to human nature and the world for its proper and good function. Who else can be a better witness to point out the differences in the development of life and the world than those who have experienced what life is like without God and Jesus Christ and then were rescued from that life of sin and destruction?
Since the birth of this new people of God, the faithful followers of Jesus Christ have had to fight against a barrage of ideas contrary to the will of God. The followers of the biblical perspective always find opposition when they confront false ideas whether in religion or philosophy. For this reason we see the incessant battle to destroy biblical Christianity which is the new society in the world throughout history. The faith of a Christian believer has never been a private matter. In other words, it is a lie that he or she does not have to take his or her convictions into the social sphere. And when they do, they confront the wrath of despots who want to use their force to defend "their right" to maintain society under oppression, and break away from God’s precepts and the social benefits they bring. From the beginning of biblical Christianity we see what a team religion and political power turn out to be and always unite to try to hold back and destroy the advancement of God’s absolute truth: “But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus’" (Acts 17:5-7).
When the biblical Christian declares that he has a different system of values and social order, and that it’s the only one that can bring true meaning to life and the world it causes all the erroneous perspectives conceived by men to tremble. This declaration shakes even the most intellectually and politically powerful. The absolute truth of God crashes economical systems fueled by oppression and exploitation. It tumbles all the idols that man builds and worships for their way to salvation. All this is due to the fact that God's truth recognizes Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords whose kingdom, which was initiated with his public life, has no end. To declare that Jesus is King and He is above all governments is a strong political declaration; that's the way it was understood and made known by the first generation of Jesus’ followers.
Cowards Are Not Part of God’s Social Order
We must be very cautious when we hear a pastor, theologian or teacher within Christianity say that we should not be involved in the political and social life of our community or of our nation. This perspective is not only in error, but very destructive and it kills the motivation within the believer. Any leader within a Christian congregation or institution should eliminate from their mind and vocabulary every concept that affirms our sole responsibility is to prepare people for heaven and forget about being salt and light here on earth now.
We have already seen how Jesus declared that His church and His new people should advance and go forward no matter how severe the opposition. The church is an institution established by God, alongside the institution of the family and the state, its proper function and powerful social influence completes the other two institutions. The new people of God are to oppose and resist when any one of the three or all three institutions become corrupt. The salvation of man is not only for his soul, but it also includes saving and enriching the culture through the reconciliation between God and man as well as man with man.
We must all insist that the church constantly prepare and equip its members to be an active part of the change that culture demands so they will not become passive, ineffective cowards. It is important to remember it is written that cowards will not inherit the benefits of the kingdom of God in this life and what awaits them is eternal death in hell, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
God gave us salvation through Jesus Christ not to please man and his anti-biblical institutions, nor for us to live fearful of what will happen to us when we oppose pagan ideas. When God saves us He believes we will respond to the new nature in Christ not only in the way we process new ideas, but also to give us courage to confront falsehoods and implement His absolutes in their place.
It’s true that we have a heavenly citizenship, but it is also true that there is a close relationship on how we live our heavenly citizenship as we sojourn here on earth. We cannot and should not be like those Christians who have kept silent as their nations were being destroyed with anti-biblical ideas. If we analyze history, we will find that the church has been more preoccupied to preserve its rituals, art, traditions and idolatrous constructions, therefore losing sight of all effectivity to offer solutions to resolve social chaos…they are clearly no earthly good.
As we can see, to be a mere observer of world social events is not in the best interest of the will of God here on earth.
What do you say? Should the church be a mere sideline observer of social events in the world?
By the way, remember you are the church.