Sunday, August 20, 2017
We live in stormy times. Consider the headlines of the last week: threats of a nuclear attack from North Korea, a racially motivated attack in Charlottesville, a terrorist attack in Barcelona. How are Christians to respond? Should we seek to be a prophetic voice of conscience for our nation condemning evil? Though condemnation is warranted, that response falls short of what Jesus has called his followers to do.
For the church to stay on course, we must view our world through the lens of the gospel. Hatred and animosity should not surprise us. Many people like to think that the world is becoming more enlightened, but the depravity of the human heart is as strong as ever, and moral condemnation will not change that condition. The only hope for change is the spiritual transformation of individuals by the grace and power of God.
In Titus 3:1-8, Paul explained how the gospel guides Christians to respond to our world. He said,
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
In other words, the gospel message should be reflected in everything Christians say and do. We should obey the authorities, because we trust that God will ultimately hold them accountable for their actions. We should humbly treat all people (even those who say or do reprehensible things) with compassion and respect, because we know firsthand the enslaving power of sin and God’s desire for all men to be saved. We should tell people of God’s saving grace, because we have experienced his mercy and have been given the hope of eternal life. Finally, we should meet practical needs to demonstrate our gratitude for the goodness of God.
People hold a variety of opinions about how Christians should respond in our tumultuous times, but we must stay on course with the clear direction that God has given us. We cannot simply withdraw from the world in silence. We must each make a determined effort to let our light shine (Matt 5:16).
– Bryan Craddock