Politics and the Church – Condition of the Christian Church [Part 9]

This week we will conclude a look at the condition of the Christian church. God does not call upon His followers to wait for miracles to change the world.  Instead, He is waiting on us to get moving and bring forth those changes.  Earlier it was noted that the proportion of adults who are unchurched has been steadily rising to the point where nearly half of Americans are now without any regular church connection.  Why is this?  A major explanation might be that in their eyes…and in the eyes of millions of churched adults who are likely to join the ranks of the unchurched in the decade to come…the Christian church does not stand for anything significant, positive, or tangible.  Sure, it teaches Christian principles and stories, but a narrative that does not produce action or life change is simply entertainment.  And if that’s the case, then the real challenge is who entertains best: Hollywood, Disney World, Nashville or the local church?  The answer may be a toss up but you can almost bet that the church is not in the running to win the contest.  Could it be that we have reached the point at which it is indisputable that most church leaders are failing to lead, and that most Christians are refusing to take their spiritual growth into their own hands but are waiting for someone else to do something?  Don’t get me wrong.  There are many wonderful, God-led, dedicated pastors and congregants but in comparison with the overall church and national populations the number is few.  With our nation’s back to the wall it is time for the believers in America to clarify their beliefs and put them into action in order to save what is left of the freedoms that so many Americans have fought and even died for.  To refuse to engage in the battle of the day is a rejection of their sacrifice and a repudiation of unequivocal Biblical directives.  To fail to energetically defend those rights and freedoms will produce a nation that has abandoned its heart and soul.  To surrender the right to fight for the way of God is a rejection of the God who provided the written instructions to pursue righteousness, in His name, at any cost.

There are some who would say that the church should try to change the laws and the culture and should not emphasize evangelism.  This was a primary emphasis of the Social Gospel movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This movement urged churches to work aggressively to overcome poverty, slums, crime, racial discrimination, and other social evils.  These were good causes but this movement placed little emphasis on the need for individuals to place personal trust in Christ as Savior or the need to proclaim the entire Bible as the Word of God and worthy of our belief.  The Social Gospel movement gained followers primarily among liberal Protestants rather than among more conservative, evangelical Protestant groups.  Some say that Christians who emphasize political involvement seem to think that government is the solution to our nation’s problems rather than trusting God.  These then seem to be attacks against a ‘straw man’; an opponent that does not really exist.  No well known religious leaders have expressed such a view: Focus on the Family, Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, 700 Club, Concerned Women for America, Alliance Defense Fund, American Center for Law and Justice, etc.  Many of these evangelical leaders who are involved with seeking to influence government have been active evangelists for many years.  Not once has any of them said that ‘good government’ will save us.  As Christians we can never profess that good laws will save our nation.  Unless there is simultaneously an inner change in people’s hearts and minds, good laws alone will only bring about grudging, external compliance with the minimum level of obedience necessary to avoid punishment. {Next time you are at an intersection, notice how many stop/do not stop at a stop sign.}

Genuine, long-term change in a nation will only happen (1) if people’s hearts change so that they seek to do good, not evil; (2) if people’s minds change so that their moral convictions align more closely with God’s moral standards in the Bible; and (3) if a nation’s laws change so that they more fully encourage good conduct and punish bad conduct.  Item 1 comes about through personal evangelism and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Item 2 takes place both through personal conversation and teaching and through public discussion and debate.  Item 3 comes about through Christian political involvement.  All three are necessary.

     Next week we will start on a new series within “Politics and the Church”.  It will be entitled “Restoring the Government”.  This will start with rediscovery of the Bible.

– Bob Munsey

 

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