How The Church Changes Society

How many times a week do you hear about the atrocities of our culture, our government, our world, with the following admonition: “The church must ban together to stop this atrocity.” This is usually said about abortion, or politics.

I’m all for banning abortions. I’m also all for preaching towards that end, as long as the preaching done is to preach Christ crucified so that all come to know Christ. In other words, I’m for the church doing what the church is called to do: first, worship in Spirit and truth through preaching, teaching, prayer, and the sacraments. Second, through making disciples through the peaching and teaching of God’s word. That is the church’s purpose.

The moment we make the church’s purpose any social cause, is the moment we fail in what God has called the church to do. In our wisdom, we have decided to use man’s tactics and methods in bringing about change instead of trusting in the means we have been given by God to make those changes.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am concerned about social issues, but the best way to deal with social issues is by being what we in the church are called to be. Society will never change when we focus on bringing about that change apart from using the tools God has given us to make that change.

J. Gresham Machen puts it this way: “Human institutions are really to be molded, not by Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed.”

In other words, we can put forth Christian principles all we want in our attempts to shape society. But it is not until men become Christians that society will change.

Therefore, we must stick to what God has called us to do, for the moment that we become focused, as the church, on changing a social issue, is the moment we are not who we are called to be.

Again, let me be clear, this is the church gathered together that I’m speaking of. I am not saying we should not be concerned about social issues as individuals. But the church itself must stay focused on being the church, worshipping God as He has called us to do, making and raising up disciples. The church must focus on being obedient in being the church.

Machen continues:

It is upon this brotherhood of twice-born sinners, this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule. These things indeed are to be welcomed…But in themselves their value, to the Christian, is certainly small. A solid building cannot be constructed when all the materials are faulty; a blessed society cannot be formed out of men who are still under the curse of sin.

 

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