Who Defines the Ministry
When evangelical Christians align themselves politically with either concerned groups on a particular issue such as, say, abortion, they run the risk of winning the battle but losing the war. In all probability it is merely a matter of time before those who were “allies” on a particular issue become “enemies” on another. Forming a coalition with those who philosophically approach an issue from an entirely different set of presuppositions is dangerous at best.
A cursory reading of the patriarchs of our country reveals that most of them were deists. Rather than operating from the premise that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, they believed in natural law as “self-evident” truth. Can unregenerate man discover natural law? Can the majority through a democratic process agree upon a system of law that is in basic agreement with God’s law revealed in the Scriptures? The apostle Paul states:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
Does the sinfulness of man distort this general revelation of right and wrong? It is precisely here that we face our problem. If, on the one hand, we conclude that the general revelation of God to all mankind is sufficiently accurate and undistorted so that in a free and democratic society the majority will always align themselves with God’s law, then we would not be currently faced with problems such as abortion. If, on the other hand, we conclude that man’s depravity has distorted general revelation and that natural law is not quite as self evident as we had hoped, then what is our responsibility as people exposed to God’s special revelation through the Scriptures towards leveraging the populace and insisting on their abiding by God’s law without at the same time shaking the delicate foundation upon which our free society has been built?
All rational people crave peace and prosperity but find instead war and poverty. To work for the former is noble; to pray for it is commanded. But when working in concert with people who are not living in accordance with God’s revelation, the task becomes complicated, complicated from several perspectives.
First, it is complicated by the fact that when special interest groups seek to impose their will on the majority, no matter how noble their cause may appear, they are merely flirting with the possibility of a new coalition being formed that ultimately is not in the best interest of Christianity. For example, the unbeliever may side with the Christian against abortion today and with the humanist against charitable deductions on income taxes tomorrow. Any time the minority succeed in imposing their will on the majority, no matter how “right” the cause may he, it weakens the foundation upon which a democracy rests.
Second, it is complicated by the fact that if God gives to us the peace and prosperity we long for, we run the risk of moving into a posture of no longer needing Him. As Christians our purpose for being here on earth is to prepare us for an eternity with God. From an eternal perspective there is no intrinsic worth in peace and prosperity. We are best prepared for an eternity with the Lord by living in a posture of perpetual dependence upon God. Often times peace and prosperity are counterproductive in that aim.
Third, is is complicated by the fact that communities which move closer to the theocratic model of the Old Testament tend to become lulled into a spiritual stupor. The more closely aligned to the Biblical expectations a society becomes, the more it tends to lull people into believing that their nature is not in need of change. Desperation and dependence give way to comfort and compromise. Christians become complacent and lose their edge. There is no longer a sharp contrast between the people of God and the world, and personal evangelism seems to he less important. I know that in various “Christian” communities that I have visited across the country, this phenomenon is almost always present.
Fourth, it is complicated by the fact that Christians who expend emotional energy in the direction of bringing society into conformity with the commandments of God tend to view this as “the ministry.” As already noted, how we relate to our country is an issue of stewardship just as how we care for our bodies is, but it is temporal in nature and should not become the focus of our lives.
One of the reasons a theocratic society is so appealing is the security it affords a person and his family. The fight with sin and the struggle with the world is minimized. Thus the compulsion to work for a society “under God” is almost irresistible for the conscientious Christian. To yield to this urge may be, for that person, the will of God; to call it the ministry is to miss the mark with God.