THE GOSPEL IS THE BEST RECONSTRUCTION TOOL
by Pastor Paul K. Christianson
Self-appointed apostles of social adjustment can often be seen traversing the religious landscape, endeavoring to politicize the church. In America, this has become a serious problem!
Many of these ‘Theonomists’, as they are called, desire to ‘reconstruct’ society according to the law of God, putting away the social and political evils they see in every quarter of our country. Now don’t get me wrong. The Christian must never be indifferent to sin and evil. On the contrary, we must actively oppose abortion, the oppression of the weak by the strong, and the corruption which is apparent in every area of our national life. But we must do it according to the Word of God.
Are we wiser?
Even in the oppressive and ungodly society of Babylon during the prophet Daniel’s time, he and his friends did not wear placards reading ‘Jews Against Babylonian Food’. No! They worked quietly within that evil empire, obeying the king wherever possible (Daniel 1- 3). When they were promoted, in course of time, to positions of influence, they did not feel it necessary to go on strike in protest at the civil idols.
The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God’ (Romans 13:1). Are we, today, wiser than Daniel and Paul?
So what method does the Holy Spirit command us to use? Protest marches? No! Coercion? No! Letter-writing campaigns? No! Ecumenical meetings where biblical truth is laid aside for the sake of unity over some social issue? Once again, no!
The Bible tells us that it is the preaching and teaching of the gospel, applied by the Holy Spirit, which will bring men under conviction of sin. As God’s chosen instrument, the gospel will not only change the hearts of men but will also transform society.
What was it that changed the idolatrous city of Ephesus to the point that there was public unrest amongst the guilds? Acts 19 tells us that it was the preaching of the gospel. The very fabric of Ephesian society was transformed. People’s hearts were changed, and therefore the society also began to undergo change. The economic fortunes of the idol trade were reversed, through the preaching of Christ and the hearing of faith (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:1 – 8; Colossians 1). Sorcery and black magic were eradicated (Acts 19:19).
The weapons of Goliath
By its very nature, Christian ‘reconstruction’ involves de-emphasising the preaching of the gospel in favor of prosecuting social and political agendas. Men become impatient and dissatisfied with God’s ways and devise their own.
While Christians must obey God’s moral law, the law by itself does not have the power to usher in a golden age of societal transformation. Rather, it is through God’s ordained means, the preaching of the gospel for the conversion of sinners, that society can be changed. This is where the promises of Christ are both found and reserved.
One commentator has urged us to remember that ‘The New Testament writers were not so much trying to change the world and make it a better place to live. They were not trying to restore paradise which was lost long ago; neither were they social reformers; but rather, they were heralds of the returning Christ’.
Let us not take up the weapons of Goliath in the service of God. Let us not be guilty of politicizing Christ’s church. Do you want to be a light in the world, or would you prefer to work day and night to recover secular institutions? Do you really wish to learn about your role as a Christian in this world?
Salt and light
Well, it is as simple as this. Read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, beginning in Matthew chapter five. Realize that being ‘salt’ and ‘light’ as Christ commanded, has an individuality about it. You do not need to join your local ‘Christian Coalition’; you just need to be salt and light at home, or in the office, or wherever God puts you!
You will accomplish much more for his kingdom by implementing the Sermon on the Mount than by sending resolutions to parliament, or to the state legislature as the case may be.
Michael Horton has commented that God has called us to the workplace, not that we might reconstruct it, but that we might support our families by it. In doing a competent and conscientious job for our employer, we will be salt and light, having opportunity to speak of eternal matters.
Consider the fact that, historically speaking, the church has paid more attention this century than ever before, to politics, economics and sociology. What has been the result? Society has reaped more vice, more immorality, more compromise, more lawlessness, and more ungodliness. Let us now, therefore, act according to the directions of Scripture and not according to the foolish impatience of man