Today’s Church exists in a sorely corrupted world. There is not a single sphere of society spared from the consequences of sin. News of fresh corruption allegations almost make our daily headlines. The future, if our youth are anything to go by, forebodes poorly for us. As a country, we probably have never sunk deeper than we are at the moment. Any hope that things will ever reverse at least before the return of Christ looks far-fetched.
The Church with a call
But the Church clearly understands its mandate to remain as the unquenchable voice of God to our generation. When corruption swiftly takes over a government, rebuke should and will come from nowhere else but the Church. (a quote by someone). He has never intended to use angels, and He’s not about to begin.
That should be a great relief to us, because it means that we cannot fail on our mandate.
Christians understand that it’s not an easy task influencing governments, corporations and senior people within the society; the ones who make the wheels turn and shape nearly everything around us. We will barely ever get an audience with them if we remained at the level of an ‘ordinary’ citizen. We hardly have a choice but to work our way to a level shoulder to shoulder with them.
So there has been a wave of Christians relentlessly pursuing space within the high echelons of whether organizations or governance. Churches have perhaps more than before awoken to a need to gain clout, especially economical. The numbers of investments made by churches are easily at an all-time high. These are justified and commendable moves that a few years ago hardly received any consideration among Christians.
The Church seemed contented with preaching alone, and thanks to misunderstanding of secular versus sacred we comfortably assumed a back seat role and watched secularists take over every sphere of influence. But are we to respond with the same blow as the one we have been dealt?
Salt and Light
In seeking to influence the world around us for Christ, our sure bet is to go by how He teaches we should influence. In Matthew 5:13 – 16, Jesus uses an analogy of salt and light to explain to His disciples their privileged position in the world. He calls us the salt of the world (implying we give both taste and preserve it), and also the light of the world. In John 17:15 He prays to God not to remove us from the world, but rather protect us from the evil one in it.
Jesus clearly intended that we be found among sinners, not watching and hoping to influence from without, but actively transforming the world from within. Seeing Christians therefore pursuing and taking over the secular world must be a rewarding step. We need the salt and light wherever we can have it.
What I find troubling though is this; that despite the growing presence of Christians in the secular world and a soaring effort by churches to invest in economic projects, not much of the world is changed. There may be pockets of institutions transformed by this strategy, but majority still reveal the same old evils or even worse. We supposedly have the salt and light everywhere, but their impact seems to be no match to the darkness around.
I find that the problem has been with our approach. While the effort to ensure we have salt (Christians) in every sphere of society is great, we have ignored the more important task to keep the salt salty. If the environment around a Christian is not salted, then very likely he/she has lost his saltiness – Matthew 5:13. If the light of a Christian is not felt wherever they are, then very likely they have ceased to shine forth light.
We are not to cease going out to where our world to influence is. But we should always remember that beyond our going there is an even greater aspect; drawing the world to ourselves. We influence the world around us for Jesus more by how they are drawn to us than how we go to them. The Church should be a voice to reckon with. But investing in huge economic projects, seeking representation in boards and flooding the marketplace with believers will not earn us that. That’s barely even half the ladder up.
We cannot influence the world for Jesus by seeking to gain influence the way it does (using socio – economic leverages). There is a different way to make our voice heard; we make it stand out and sought after, rather than plead for inclusion and participation. Our opinion will only be held in high regard when it is solicited.
Let’s be salty again
Jesus compared His disciples to a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. He asked them that in the same way they should let their light shine before men. The result: that they may (see your good deeds and) glorify your Father in heaven – Mat 5:16. The transformation of the world can only happen when they move from self-glorification to glorifying God by how they live. That cannot happen unless they’ve seen from a child of God how to live in obedience to His commands.
Any positional influence we may have (political, economic, corporate, etc) will not guarantee spiritual influence of any magnitude. Only acts of righteousness can and will have a spiritual tilting on the world. If a sinner is to be wowed by anything about a Christian until they turn from their ways and seek Jesus with their whole hearts, it won’t be how he/she has amassed awards in his career. It will be the fruit of the Spirit on display each time they encounter him/her; the love, the patience, the joy, you know them.
The government will not genuinely seek the counsel of a church leader because his church is a business powerhouse with masses of followers, but because they’ve seen in him an honest man of God filled with wisdom from above.
Our good deeds that result from our obedient walk with God are the only way we can have men glorify our heavenly Father. We are not called to fight the fire that the world has already lit (jostling for position), we are called to light our own. We are called to love like Jesus, to show patience and kindness, to be merciful, etcetera. We are simply called to excel at obeying God’s every command, and when we do world evangelization will take care of itself.
But we busy ourselves with strategizing on how we can be witnesses, when all we really need to do is simply just live out the witness. We don’t need to look any farther than where we already are to find a world in need of Christ. All we need to do is focus inward on our walk with God, because the most of Jesus Christ a group of sinners around a Christian will experience is the much of Christ that Christian possesses and is willing to display. No investment or career goal is needed for that.
Like Daniel or Nehemiah, we may be blessed to occupy positions of honor, but the position should never be an end as it has become to most Christians privileged with one. It should never even be our goal to get to some position so that we will witness/ influence, but rather, we should strive that the position will be a blessing along the way of our witness/ influence if the Lord pleases. I believe that’s how it was with the two men.
The prevalence of sin in our society shows that the Church is not as audible. Our voice is frail, and mostly because we try to woo the world with what they already have. If we will be heard, we have to display the one thing they lack; the righteousness of God in us. So maybe it’s time the Church and Christians individually eased up on trying to gain influence on the world with an outward appeal. Our dwindling impact can only be a sign of one thing; a gradual losing of the battle within. We are letting the enemy have his way with us, and it will be preposterous to expect the Holy Spirit to have His way with the world through us.