In this article we attempt to draw conclusions from our previous posts (End of Evangelical Church? and A Christian World View) which examine the activist role of Christians in an increasingly hostile secular world.
I presented the case for a politically active church with the contrasting views of the late pastor Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk) who predicted that political activism will destroy the evangelical church.
Sincere Christians disagree with me. Many believe that the Church should rise above all manner of worldly strife (such as political debate), and focus on our mandated call to preach the Gospel.
Ancient Judaism was not evangelical. This is a strange thing that Jesus commanded. The Pharisees saw the disciples as a threat not only to the religious system, but also the survival of Israel. It was feared that the Way would become so disruptive that Rome might feel threatened and destroy Jerusalem. (How ironic that this would be the end fate of a nation that rejected the Messiah.)
Caiaphas, the High Priest, expressed the thoughts of the religious hierarchy:
Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish (John 11:50).
(In this manner, noted John, Caiaphas prophesied the sacrificial death of Christ.)
The disciples did not join a monastery. They engaged the culture, and made people uncomfortable. In the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) Jesus told his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:13–16).
Though it is a preservative what happens when salt is poured into a wound? And our light cannot be hidden. You do not put a basket over the lamp. The secular world reacts to the Gospel message like a deer caught in the headlights. Darkness is exposed by the light, and people do not like having their sins revealed. So Christians are persecuted, mocked, ridiculed and sometimes martyred.
The words of Jesus are relevant always:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
Why were the prophets killed? Because they exposed the sins of Israel to the light of truth. To be persecuted for righteousness’ sake is to take a moral stand against wrongdoing. This is where things get murky according to Pastor Spencer. Is praying in front of an abortion clinic beyond the purview of our mandate to be light and salt? Spencer worried that the blending of politics with the Gospel would render both ineffective — that Christian faith would be supplanted by political cause.
Morality is the purview of the body of Christ. What has happened is that liberal politicians — in a patronizing scheme to gain power — have politicized moral issues. They have usurped the authority of the Church in an attempt to impose a secular world view upon the nation.
Gay marriage is not a political issue, but moral. Abortion is not a political issue, but moral. Legalization of marijuana is not a political issue, but moral. Euthanasia is not a political issue, but moral. Morality cannot be legislated nor could the Law of Moses change people’s hearts.
Spencer warned that political activism will cause the world to hate Christianity. Folks, the world has always hated Christians.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (John 15:18).
As the Left does not believe in moral absolutes it becomes imperative that the Church not yield moral authority. Through political wrangling this battle has escalated into a culture war from which the Church cannot surrender. To retreat on this front would be like putting a basket over the lamp, or turning our salt into brine.
As Jesus said, good for nothing.
Ye are the salt of the earth — to preserve it from corruption, to season its insipidity, to freshen and sweeten it. In Scripture, mankind, under the unrestrained workings of their own evil nature, are represented as entirely corrupt. The remedy for this, says our Lord here, is the active presence of His disciples among their fellows. The character and principles of Christians, brought into close contact with it, are designed to arrest the festering corruption of humanity and season its insipidity. Salt operates internally (and) sunlight operates externally, irradiating all that it reaches.
I disagree with the assertion that political activism will destroy the evangelical church. The haters of God have politicized the moral condition of man for the sake of acquiring power and influence. The Church cannot be timid. Just as the prophets of ancient Israel boldly proclaimed the truth, Christians must stand for righteousness or risk being trampled under foot like salt that has lost its savor.
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