I am currently auditing a seminary class that is covering the way that the church should interface with a post-Christian culture. It has been helpful to consider the role that the church should play, in a culture that is increasingly marginalizing the church as a primary influence.
We live in a very divided culture right now. We are divided between political parties. We are divided between genders. We are divided over whether or not their really even are genders. We are divided between races. We are divided over the role of the church in culture.
So where does the church fit into all of this cultural mess? Some would say that this is what we get for “removing prayer from schools.” And that sounds a bit oversimplistic. Sin ran rampant back then too, right? Some would say that the church needs to be elevated to a position of higher power in the culture. Some would say that we need more Christians legislating. Or we need more Christians writing, or singing, or teaching in universities. And all of these would be good things as God might call some into those various field to glorify Himself.
But none of this gets back to the root calling of the church. We influence the world through the one thing that God has given us to bring to the table. The church has something that nobody else has. And if we withhold it from culture, the culture will suffer and so will the church. We have the glorious, unique, and incomparable gospel of Jesus Christ. If the church (that is the local gatherings of people in various communities throughout the world) would grow in faith, grow in community, and grow in service to such a degree that we love God and love one another . . . We could turn the world upside down.
Investment in a local church is the way that God is calling Christians to change their world. And as we live the gospel in community, and invite others into that same community, the world will be transformed soul by soul. We may look all we want for quicker fixes. We may be tempted to think that there are shortcuts to bringing glory to God. Maybe a food pantry or digging wells in Africa will give God a better PR spin in our culture.
But God has not left the church to be His PR representative on earth. He has left us with the mission, “make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then teaching them to obey all that He has commanded . . .” Making disciples is a gospel endeavor . . . Not a merely doing good deeds endeavor. It is quite clear that the way a person becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ is by hearing and believing the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ.
And we are to share this good news in order to make disciples . . . AS WE ARE GOING according to Matthew 28:19. As we are going to our posts on Facebook. As we are going to our work place. As we are going to little league. As we are going to walk around our neighborhood. As we are going out to lunch. If the church will have an impact in our world, it will only be any substantial help brought through the good news of Jesus Christ. If we want to really see the church have a healing impact on our world . . . Then let’s get busy loving one another . . . So that we can be the place where the world can come for refuge and strength. And let’s be a church community worth inviting others into. Church is a multiplying effort. And if we take this mission seriously, the change may not be as far off as we once thought.
The world will certainly not receive the change it needs through you forwarding that politically abrasive meme or posting a screed on your own “holy” political leanings. Let’s bring to the discussion the one thing nobody has to offer: Forgiveness, grace, and a righteousness FROM God in Christ . . . Who died for us!