Thursday, December 15, 2011

Impacting All of Culture

It is said that we as Christians need to impact all of life. I agree that this is true, but we need to understand what it means. The Christian church, the body of all true believers, needs to impact all of life as we go out into the world. But part of the problem is that once you get beyond the things the Scripture states and commands, there becomes a question not only of Christian principles but of practical considerations. One thing we need to beware of is the confusion of Scriptural requirements with pragmatic methods. We also need to be careful of involving the organizational church in something that is not part of direct Christian obedience and thus confusing the two. There are things that are very clearly required by Scripture, such as helping the poor and needy, which the organizational church can be involved in directly (Acts 4:32-35; 1 Timothy 5:3-15; James 2:15,16), though not to the detriment of its obligation to instruct people in God's truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-15; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). A good example of this in Acts 6, where they tried to carefully balance the demands of meeting people's needs with the ministry of the word and prayer.

But there are other cases where we are best served by other organizations, which are parts of the universal church involved in a specialized purpose. This may even involve making common cause with unbelievers to accomplish common goals. We are called to be the light of the world and have an effect on those around us (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:14-16; Ephesians 5:7-17). But we need to be careful in the process not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1,2; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4). We need to be careful of confusing our Christianity with other issues God does not speak on. We need Christian politicians and political activists doing what they  think best within the context of their Christian instruction.  We need Christian artists who express themselves within a Christian context. Christian scientists doing science from a Christian context. And if past experience is any guide, this is a hard thing to do without compromise. But there are some things we can do to help. We need to be careful of putting people on too high a pedestal, or we are in danger of encouraging pride and a fall (Proverbs 16:18; 11:2; Romans 12:3). But we should also be careful of too easily criticizing and doing so with the wrong spirit (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Hebrews 12:12-13). But rather let all us consider how to be lights in the place we are, whether it is seen as prominent or obscure from the world's point of view.

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