The Beginnings of Christian Reform (56)

It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute book of the kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, “He that is not with me is against me.” If the national life in general is organized upon non Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity. (A. A. Hodge, (circa 1885), Evangelical Theology (p. 283–284).

Hodge’s statement makes it clear that today, there are a lot of changes that need to be made. They will not begin with the world. They must begin with the church, for the scripture makes it clear that “…it is time for judgement to begin with the household of God…” (I Pet.4:17).

It is God’s people who must be the first to be propagating and embracing godly change in society, and it has to begin in the church. The humanism and paganism of our present era, which the church has been largely apathetic about and frequently accepted, will have to be utterly rejected by God’s people.

But not only that. God’s people must embrace God’s solutions to all of the issues we are facing today, and there are many of them.

This will mean discussion and debate. It will mean strained relationships, pain, acrimony and division. There will be a lot of people who struggle to understand how these debates have come about, and how to resolve them. There will be splits within churches, which always seems to happen when compromise threatens the church, as it does today.

But remember this: the health of a society is ultimately contingent upon the health and well-being of the church. This means that Christians cannot be indifferent to church and social debates, but must participate constructively, thinking ahead for the generations to come.

What would have happened if Martin Luther had not confronted the theological and practical compromise and contradictions of the Catholic Church of his era, when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of that German church? The church would have continued to go downhill-fast.

When we get an opportunity to engage in a truly godly activity that we as Christian individuals, families and churches could and should do, even when it means a lot of change and responsibility for God’s people to undertake, we should prepare to embrace it.

How do we know we should do this? Because

Power flows to those who take responsibility.

Moses (though he was initially reluctant), accepted the call from God to go back to Egypt to lead His people out, through the Red Sea, to the promised land.

Was this daunting? Of course.

Did it seem impossible? Absolutely.

Did he succeed? Yes, he did.

Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says that,

Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power… (Ps.110:3).

You think you’re ready for action? Great! On what front?

Wherever God leads.

What about this one?

Welfare. That wasn’t what you were exactly thinking of?
Of course. I understand, completely. Most of us will initially think of those areas where there are lights, cameras and action for us.

But the Bible warns us that,

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the things that are despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God (I Cor.1:26-29).

Immediately after Abram had fought and killed the men who had kidnapped his nephew Lot, a man named Melchizedek turned up at the battlefield. What did he bring Abram? Bread and wine, and the blessing of God (Gen.14:14-20). The scripture, commenting on this incident, tells us that “… the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Heb.7:7).

When a widow in Zarephath obeyed Elijah by faith, and gave him food in the midst of a famine, Elijah prophesied to her that “…the bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth” (I Kings 17:14).

When a man brought Elisha “…bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack…” (II Kings 4:42), and there were a hundred men to feed, Elisha prophesied that “…they shall eat and have some left over” (v.45), and so it was.

Jesus fed the five thousand (Mat.14:15-21), then after the resurrection when seven of the disciples had returned from a fruitless fishing trip, He met them, then gave them their breakfast of bread and fish on the beach (Jn.21:9-14). It was said of the early church, that “…there was not a needy person among them…” (Acts 4:34).

We have these testimonies in scripture, but we’ve not acted too much on them.

Well, not recently. Our believing forebears did. In England, there are massive tithe barns still around, that were built by the church 700-800 years ago. They stored grain and other agricultural produce for the winter, to feed the poor.

Opportunities abound for God’s people to pick up their responsibilities and opportunities for charity and welfare, in the community. These will not go away, for as Jesus indicated, “…You always have the poor with you…” (Jn.12:8).

If the church wants the privilege of becoming the primary institution in the community again, we’ll have to accept first, the responsibilities of that position. And we’ll have to begin at the primary place of need: needy people. This will be a massive task, not to be undertaken lightly, with innumerable challenges to be constructively faced, along with a massive amount of work.

But the promise of scripture is clear:

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor (Ps.140:12).

Is that what you’re ready for? Roll up your sleeves