Christianity’s Ongoing, Visible Impact
As we approach Election Day on Nov 6th, I thought it would be good to revisit the role of Christians living out our faith in the world. We were not the first generation to speak into a depraved world as His Church! Jesus formed and commissioned His Church to impact a 1st century Greco-Roman culture that devalued life, marriage, mercy and compassion, and had a bloodlust for violent sport. Sound familiar… perhaps a little like our own? For the most part, what we face today is not new.
Into that world, the 1st-2nd century Church brought the Gospel, that though humankind had largely rejected its Creator in search of its own lusts and passions, the God of the Universe bridged the gap, becoming one of them, and though He lived the perfect life, He was scorned, beaten, and killed by the very ones He loved. He then rose from the dead to prove that He was everything He claimed to be, and reassured His place as the only source for salvation. This good news brought redemption, the forgiveness of sins, restoration, and the hope of eternal salvation, but also ushered in the “side effect” of a cultural transformation that has swept the globe! As Christians unapologetically lived out their new identity in Christ, its consistency also brought about these sociological reforms:
Christianity valued, taught, and demonstrated the sanctity of human life. Christians were in vocal opposition to the gladiator games, which drew crowds to witness slaves, prisoners, criminals and other Christians be torn apart wild animals, and fights to the death. They also displayed their value for life by building hospitals and hospices and homes to take in the sick, needy, elderly, and the “least of these”. As their influence grew, Christians were finally able to shut down the “games”.
Christianity Advocated for Children. Infanticide, child abandonment, and even abortion were very common in the days of Roman rule. The early Church not only taught that children were made in God’s image and thus had intrinsic value, but they also fought to protect children with their actions as well. They rescued abandoned infants & children off the streets and adopted them into their own families.
Christians taught and lived out God’s Design for marriage and sexuality. In opposition to the concept of Greek/Roman gods that engaged in all kinds of sexual deviancy and jealous pettiness, the Church rejected the surrounding cultural messages and elevated the importance of sex within a covenantal, monogamous, lifetime marriage relationship. Furthermore, the Church continued to teach men to stay true to their wives through sacrificial love, and for women to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
Christian elevated the status of women and slaves. In a society where many wives were treated like slaves, the early Church followed in the steps of Christ, giving dignity to all. They included women in several forms of church leadership. Slaves worshiped alongside the free, recognizing them all in one sense as being “slaves of Christ” and in another, having been freed by Him! (1 Corinthians 7:22)
The operating principle for church worship was Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”, and this took effect outside of the church as well! Though the life-affirming, life-saving message of the Gospel is of first and paramount importance, living consistently to this message requires us to demonstrate it in the cultural aspects as well. Though this world is not our home (Hebrews 11:13-16), and we are “aliens and strangers” in it (1 Peter 2:11), we are to live in such a way that lovingly demonstrates what we believe!
Putting others before self, we exercise whatever gifts and privileges we’ve been given to love our world in the name of Jesus Christ! If that means we’ve been given the privilege of voting, then vote! When given less than ideal options in the voting process, we still have the opportunity to act on good conscience, and pave the way for a society that A) Promotes Life, and B) Provides the best opportunities to preach the Gospel.
Although our vote in the midterms is not the be-all and end-all as citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, it is not insignificant either! We just can’t let it end there. We must continue being the Voice for Life as God intended it, and using our daily opportunities to speak the Truth in Love into others’ lives. We have a very important message to give! Let us demonstrate it as well, in our world!