Published October 31, 2013
Question: How do we deal seriously with the external challenges presented by the world system?
Answer: Here, the only viable solution is to regain an understanding of wholistic Christian discipleship. The reason evil is so rampant today is that too many Christians are ignorant, uninformed, and apathetic when it comes to the great moral and social challenges of our day. Christians must become proactively involved in such a way as to be a true source of light and truth in our society.
For the church to minister effectively in the midst of an increasingly confused and dysfunctional society, it must exercise its prophetic role at the local level. For that to happen, it is essential that the church restore the ministry of the watchman. This is a vital missing link between what the church currently is and what it is called to be – a source of light and truth to the surrounding community.
Every church, regardless of size, should have an organized group whose designated ministry is to survey the cultural landscape and report regularly on matters of particular relevance to the congregation. Like the men of Issachar in I Chronicles 12:32 who “understood their times,” this requires men and women who are attuned to the issues of the day, both nationally and locally, and who have the knowledge, the communication skills, and the organizational ability to function as effective leaders in this crucial area of ministry.
In conclusion, there are two imperatives that we must consider.
First, we must rethink our whole paradigm of the Christian faith in the context of it being a radical countercultural alternative to the values and ways of this world. Authentic Christianity has always been, and will always be, out of sync with the dominant goals and priorities and principles of this world, which are all about ego gratification, materialism, and hedonism, and the obsession with power, wealth, status, and pleasure.
Therefore, genuine Christianity will never be acceptable to this world. This is why our secularized society today is more intolerant of biblical Christians than any other social group – including even radical Muslims.
Second, it is imperative that we rethink our calling in this world. We are not here to support this world system or to be mindless consumers of this world’s goods and values. Nor are we here to serve the institutions of this world (including the institutional church).
Our calling is to be God’s agents in this world and to take our place in the community of Christ. As such, we are to function as a source of Light and Truth in the midst of a society and culture that is becoming spiritually darker and more corrupt all the time.
This is a time of intense and unprecedented spiritual warfare in our society. As the philosopher J. Budziszewski has observed...
“We are passing through an eerie phase of history in which the [moral truths] that everyone really knows are treated as unheard-of doctrines, a time in which the elements of common decency are themselves attacked as indecent.
Our time considers it dirty-minded to treat sexual purity as a virtue... [and] a sign of impious pride to profess humble faith in God. The moral law has become the very emblem of immorality.”
Obviously, individual Christians and Christian institutions cannot afford to continue on as in the past, functioning under the false assumption that we live in a Christ-friendly society and culture (or even a neutral society and culture) and mindlessly consuming and absorbing the values of this world.
More than at any time since the first few centuries of church history, serious Christians must understand that our calling is to think and to live as a radical countercultural community that offers spiritual Light in the midst of an increasingly dark, degenerate and dysfunctional society.
Jefrey D. Breshears, founder and president of The Areopagus, an Atlanta-based Christian study center that sponsors seminars and forums on topics related to Christian history, apologetics and contemporary cultural issues.
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