During the 70’s, when I was growing up, and our culture was beginning its long slow slide into legalism and hedonism, I can remember hearing a common refrain from our modern evangelical leaders.  It was, “Don’t worry about those things.  They’re just social issues.  They have nothing to do with God’s work.”  So many of them stood by and did little or nothing while abortion was made legal, while we increasingly turned to our God of government for our solutions, while our universities became training grounds for naturalists and socialists, and while our culture embraced more and more “whatever feels good.”  What they failed to remember is that it is precisely the mundane, humble service affecting broad areas of life in society that God wants us to be performing.  In Matthew 25, it is the work that separates the sheep, or God’s REAL people, from the goats, or people pretending to be His but having none of His compassion for the burdens of those around them.   And when we serve people in this way, it is as if we are doing it for God, Himself.  Additionally, in Matthew 5:13-16, we are called to be salt and light for our culture, having a civilizing or an ameliorating effect on a culture that would otherwise naturally go the way of sin.  As Edmund Burke purportedly said in the 18th century, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  I would add “women” to this quote as well.  When men and women stand by doing nothing, evil will naturally flourish.

This concept is not confined to the New Testament, either.  So, it has been true throughout human history.  In Isaiah 58, God admonishes His people that their supposed service to Him in fasting is not the real service that He desires.  Instead, He wants them busy in meeting the needs of those around them.  He poses a rhetorical question, asking whether the real fasting done in worship of Him is, “to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”  These verses pretty well cover the gamut of issues that affect our modern society.  We should never forget that these “mere social issues” have an enslaving effect on society.   Whether it is abortion, homosexuality, drug abuse, the dissolution of family, or any of a long list of social ills, they all have a negative impact on people’s lives, especially the youngest of us who have no power when an adult brings sin and even abuse into the home.   Therefore, it is always our duty to oppose sin in society, using whatever gifts we may have, battling it however God leads us to do so, standing in the gap wherever we live and work in society. 

We do, however, have to be careful in not focusing entirely on social issues and neglecting the remaining teachings of the Bible.  That has been the downfall of many liberal denominations in the 20th and 21st centuries, causing them to lose their way, becoming more secular and gradually declining in power and numbers as people realized there was little or no truth to be found in their houses of worship.  They got the social issues right, but they got too bogged down in political solutions for many of society’s problems and forgot about the necessary individual work in our communities as well as the transforming work of God’s truth in people’s lives.  Once we clothe them, feed them, break their bonds, then we need to meet their spiritual needs, teach them, disciple them, and encourage them in a Christian walk.  As Jesus noted in Matthew 4:4, “Man cannot live by bread alone.”  Man is designed to be a spiritual creature, and even though all of his physical and emotional needs be met, he will not be happy until his spiritual needs are met as well.  There has to be a balance. 

Moreover, the spiritual needs do not end at salvation.  This is another mistake of modern evangelical churches, believing and even teaching that everything falls in place once we and others get our ticket punch for heaven as we are saved.  That moment of new birth merely begins our life of struggle to serve others and to become what we are originally designed for, to fulfill His plans for us as His servants, the long process we call sanctification.  We still have far to go after the moment of our spiritual birth, and we still have this treasure in earthen vessels, such that we can never let up in trying to be conformed to His will and His principles.  We will still be able to sin, and will be quite good at it sometimes, until we receive our glorified bodies.  We have to remember that so many of God’s best people in the Bible were still able to do foolish things after God claimed them as His own.  As I have said many times while attending or teaching Bible classes, the Bible is NOT the story of what great men and women did for God.  It is, rather, the story of what great things God was able to do through inherently and deeply flawed men and women. 

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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