Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fierce Society: Part 2

This is the second post in the series entitled “The Fierce Society.” The purpose of the series will be to help Christians to understand the times and the nature of the society we will be dealing with. Christians should be living in and demonstrating the kingdom of God in the midst of an ungodly society in perilous times. This second post simply touches on the Christian’s influence in a society that seeks to silence that perspective. –Billy Long

The Church and Government
The church as an organization should not control civil government, but Christians as individuals should participate in government and express themselves and their values in matters of civil law. Everyone else does; why not us? Every legislator votes according to his moral values or lack thereof. The problem for us is that humanistic and godless people have been gradually taking over and pushing the Judeo-Christian perspective into the corner and out of the room. God and the Bible are considered irrelevant and offensive. Christians have been told to be quiet.

 Amidst the silence of compliant and passive Christians many of us have been deceived into thinking this is normal and that God and His word are irrelevant in public discourse. Humanistic unbelievers have laid down the rules saying, “You can’t quote the Bible.” I say, “Why not?” If you remove God and the Bible, then you have no authoritative basis for rules and morality. If you remove God and the Bible, then you have no authoritative answer to give your children when they ask you why they should not engage in sex with their friends. Without God there is no basis for right and wrong, except what the majority decides, and even then why must we be bound to the will of the majority? The only final authority is the Sovereign God, who commands us. Without Him, we go “each to his own way” as the prophet Isaiah said.

The framers of our constitution never intended to remove God, prayer, and the Bible from our national life. The bill of rights in the United States Constitution was designed to maintain freedom of religion and to prevent the government from controlling the spiritual and religious life of the people. It also prevents any organized religion from using the government to force people to follow their particular brand. It states that “congress shall make no laws” respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof. The government cannot force or prevent religion. But from the beginning of our nation, prayer and the Bible were freely referenced in law, courts, public institutions, and schools. This is because the individuals themselves acknowledged God. Regardless of the actual spiritual condition of the people, our national culture was formed from a Judeo-Christian world-view. Most people acknowledged the God of the Bible whether or not they were personally Christian in their practice and behavior. The government could not establish or prohibit religion, but Judeo-Christian values were a natural part of our national life, and God was acknowledged in all branches of Government.

Even with our differences it used to be that our society was a more peaceful blend of variety that seemed to co-exist with “give and take,” with “conviction and compromise” working together. Now we are becoming more and more polarized with world-views that are hostile to one another, incompatible, and separated by a gulf difficult to cross. This leads to tension and conflict. The Judeo-Christian consensus that gave reality to our motto “E Pluribus Unum” (One out of Many) is now being replaced in practice by the principle of “Division out of Plurality.” We have been losing the Christian consensus.

Christian Influence
The church as an organization should not control the civil government, and the secular government should not control the church. When the Roman Empire was split into east and west, there was a period when the Pope in Rome gained political ascendency and power over secular rulers, while in the eastern half of the empire the secular ruler in Constantinople had power over the church. Both dynamics proved harmful to the church and led to corruption and hindrance to true spiritual life. The government should not infringe on religion, and the institutional church should not try to control secular government. But individual Christians should be involved in government as in all aspects of public life.

Legislating Morality?
All laws represent a legislation of morality and reflect the world-view and values of those who make the laws. People have often attempted to silence the Christian influence by saying, “You can’t legislate morality.” But this statement is only partially true. You cannot use law and legislation to make a person moral, but you can use law to affect his behavior. If a man is a thief at heart, the law is not designed to make him moral but to prevent him from stealing. Law is, in fact, a legislation of morality. The only question is: Whose morality?

This is why it is unreasonable to silence Christians and tell them they should not be involved or give input into the legislative processes of our nation. If Christians are forbidden to have a voice or influence, then whose values will be the basis of our laws?

The Role of Christians
If the church sits in hypocrisy or empty ritual and confines itself to the four walls of the Sunday morning meetings, it will be despised as being irrelevant and detached from reality. But if the church arises in the integrity and power of who she really is, expressing the supernatural life and character of Jesus Christ, she will potentially be hated by a world desiring to keep God at a distance and cast off his rule over their lives.

So what should we as Christians do? We must love the world as Jesus did. We must proclaim the good news that Jesus came to save them and bring them into relationship with God. We should live in and teach the ways of God as taught in His Word the Bible.

Regarding government, we should pray for rulers and authorities. We should be involved in government. We should do all we can to influence legislation so that laws are just and not morally reprehensible.

But we must remember that we cannot “Christianize” the nation by laws and statutes. The Christian’s main thrust should be to change the nation by prayer and evangelism, by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. We need another national revival like those experienced under Jonathon Edwards in the 1700s, Charles Finney in the 1800’s, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, just to name a few. The solution is for men and women turn to God. We will not find the answer in politics.

We should remember that Jesus is "King of kings" (and King of presidents). All rulers will answer to Him.  

"Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Annointed saying, 'Let us break Their bonds in pieces, and cast away Their cords from us.'  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King on His holy hill of Zion... Now, therefore, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him."  -Psalm 2


Joseph Holbrook said...

~ "The Christian’s main thrust should be to change the nation by prayer and evangelism, by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God."

And I will add to influence our society through non-adversarial redemptive service, not only proclaiming but incarnating and demonstrating the KoG. This is the "Daniel model."

Also, Christians need to abandon the "moral majority" model of Christendom that assumes we own the society (since we no longer do have a majority consensus) and take on the mentality of the early Christians who were a persecuted minority. When they prayed for their rulers, they were praying for Nero.

Billy Long said...

Thanks, Joseph. I appreciate your comments. The Bible says "He that wineth souls is wise." It is good when Christians use wisdom as well as love when reaching out to the world. If we offend, it is best that people are offended by the truth rather than by our lack of wisdom. As Jesus said,"The servant is not greater than his Master, if they received me, they will receive you. If they have rejected me, they will reject you also." There will be those who receive, but also there will be those who not only reject, but "hate" the message and the messenger, no matter how palatable we make it,no matter how much we love and no matter now much wisdom we use. As with the early Christians, so also with us. But still, it is good to operate in wisdom and compassion. But sometimes, just believing the Biblical truth will be enough for some people to call you a "hater," at least in our contemporary culture.

eddie said...

Our ability to live outside ourselves and share the blessings the lord has so abundantly shared with us blesses many and allowes others to see the lord in us. As i watch the lord removed from the schools and work place of our once great country i cant help but wonder why anyone asks why we struggle so. We have a government and other groups who find the lords true presence in their lives uncomfortable. Christians are being targeted more and more. its time for us to stand up and get involved in our communities. Cbildrens lives and the political world. Love. Wisdom and sharing gods love will get you further than you think. God bless you all and reach out and get involved