Should the church have a voice? by Deacon Lex Goodlett

Driving through some parts of Kentucky it seems that you can hardly make a turn without seeing a church.  Someone told me that the county they lived in had 66 churches.  Churches have been part of the American landscape for all of our history.  But more and more it seems that churches are to be seen and not heard.  The culture is perfectly OK with churches meeting on Sunday, visiting the nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals, and running food banks.  All of these are a big part of what Jesus called churches to do and churches who do not do these things are failing in their mandate from Christ.  But should churches be more?  Should they have a voice in culture, government, schools etc.?

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus taught that Christians, embodied in local churches, are the salt of the earth.  In ancient cultures, salt was a vital substance. It was not only used to enhance flavor, but was necessary as a preservative to prevent corruption of food.  When Jesus told his disciples that they were the salt of the earth, he was telling them that through the teaching of Christ and the Christian mission, the earth can be kept from corruption and rot.  But how can the church carry out the mission of being salt to the earth?

In order for this mission to be carried out, churches cannot be just Sunday meeting places and rescue shelters for the impoverished.  They have to have a voice in cultural debate.  They cannot sit silently on the sidelines.  When society has opinions that are opposite to what God has revealed about Himself and His wishes in the Bible, it is the job of the church to influence that society.  It is not the churches job to take authority over the society, but to attempt to influence the society.  This is how the church is salt to the earth.  This requires the church to interact with, tolerate, and love not only its members, but all parts of our society.  It requires the church to hear those who disagree with us, love those who are different from us, and minister even to those who refuse to believe in Christ.

Many people believe that because America is a place that has no state religion, then the church should be silent in the affairs of the society at large.  The church should only speak to those willing to enter its doors.  But is the silence of the church a good thing for our communities?  There was a time that when questions of morality and ethics arose the church was listened to, if not always heeded.  But do our communities even care to hear the opinion of our churches anymore?  Our prisons and jails are overflowing, our young people are addicted, our marriages are falling apart, and our school systems are struggling.  Many believe that the church has no answer and that the Christian religion is just an impediment to the evolution of society.  But do you really think society would be worse if marriage vows were kept, if parents loved and nurtured their children, if children obeyed their parents, if people loved their neighbor, and if children grew up knowing they were the pinnacle of God’s creation and not a cosmic accident?  Even though the church does not always live up to these things, these are the high ideas that we strive for.

So should churches have a voice in the culture?  Absolutely.

 

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“Christian Americans”

Mat 5:13  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.Mat 5:14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.Mat 5:15  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The Presidential election results say a great deal about the current moral and ideological climate of America. I have seen many changes in my lifetime concerning politics in this nation. When I was a young man it would have been political suicide for a presidential candidate to believe that defense of gay rights, abortion and bigger government would be a boost to their chances of winning. It has become apparent over the past several decades the moral and ideological norms have changed for more than half of our population. We could write volumes about the reasons these changes have taken place. A nationalized educational system that has for many years revised the historical significance of Christian influence and demonized those who could suggest that a divine creator could have had anything to do with our origins. Christianity has been mocked and ridiculed by the entertainment industry. The concept of freedom has been replaced with license to promote destructive and irresponsible behavior. Lamenting the many reasons we have arrived at this place does not do much to change things. I want to discuss a different perspective on the matter.

I can remember when a movement called the Moral Majority helped bring a trend back to conservative values. It appears that there is no longer a Moral Majority in America. Many  who consider themselves decent and good people are perfectly fine with abortion and other moral compromises. They vote single issues or the condition of their pocketbook. They claim to have personal convictions about morality but do not feel strong enough about their beliefs to try to influence others. They have been intimidated into believing that sharing their light would be to impose their beliefs on someone else. When you add to their number the liberal progressives the result is a statistical majority of America’s population.

There are many different groups in America today. There are African Americans, Hispanic Americans, White Americans, Union members, Public sector workers, Private sector workers, Asian Americans, Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals, the rich, the middle class, the impoverished and the list goes on and on. There is one group that needs to be added to the list: Christian Americans. This may seem odd to suggest since it was people of the Christian faith that founded America and it was Christian principles that became the basis of our law. Christians have always had the greater influence in establishing the culture of America.

I think its time for us to consider who Jesus was talking about when He said that we were the salt and light of the world. He was talking about those who would believe the gospel. They would believe mankind to be lost in sin and separated from God. They would believe that Jesus was the Messiah and the sacrifice for these sins and that salvation only comes through accepting Him as their personal savior. Beyond that initial faith He was talking of those who would share the wisdom of His teachings. They would not be self righteous prudes, but rather people that would have the answers from God about love, forgiveness, redemption and personal peace. We would be the “born again” who have found new life in Christ and understand the things that are important to God. America is one of the few places in history where those who meet this criteria have been the dominant group. This is no longer true and it hasn’t been true for awhile. It has been a mistake for Christian Americans to think that this country belonged to us. God did not give the nation to us, He gave us to the nation. As a matter of fact the “born again” believers have been given by God to every nation. We must take on a different identity in America. We must stop lamenting the loss of a country that was never ours and realize we were a gift form God to that country. We need to assume the role we were saved for. Christian Americans are not white, black, Indian, Asian, male, female, Hispanic, rich, poor, republican or democrat. We are from all groups, but once we joined the ranks of the “born again” we became the light and salt of the earth. We must put away all other affiliations and realize that we belong to Christ and are His ambassadors. According to Christ we are the only ones that can be salt and light to a perishing world. We have let the enemy define us as shallow, ignorant and bigoted. We are supposed to be showing the world the truths that only come through Jesus Christ.

Christian Americans must accept our role as a minority group. When the President said America was not a Christian nation he was more correct than we thought. We find ourselves in the position that genuine Christians have historically faced and that is trying to share with a hostile world the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sooner we accept this role the sooner we will see genuine results. God never used a majority to accomplish His will on earth. Concerning America He just needs “Christian Americans” to be his gift of salt and light to our society. If we lose our savour then how will it be salted? If we hide our light then how will they see the way?