For the umpteenth time: Christians must engage with the world around them:
Given that this is the 6247th article you will find on this site, some of you might be asking: ‘Haven’t you run out of things to write about?’ Fair question, and the short answer would be this: ‘There is always something worth writing about. Simply opening the morning newspapers or doing your daily Bible reading will turn up plenty of issues worth turning into an article.’
But sometimes a topic is worth covering only once, while other things may well deserve numerous articles. As to the former, one example would have to do with the question about whether our pets will be with us in heaven. That is an interesting, but highly speculative topic.
Although there is not very much clear, direct biblical data on it, I did manage to write it up once. But chances are good I will not want nor need to revisit the subject again. You can see that piece here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2019/07/06/will-our-pets-be-with-us-in-heaven/
But some topics I have written about over and over again, and will keep doing more of the same in the days ahead – including today. The issue of why believers MUST get involved in the various battles of the day is one such topic. And with 2408 articles in my ‘Culture Wars’ section, many of them would offer the rationale for, and examples of, why we must engage and not remain silent or aloof.
So here I am discussing this matter yet again. It follows on from some recent discussions I have had with fellow believers. When folks raise this issue, I try to answer them in part, but I also remind them that there are numerous articles on my site that discuss these things in much more detail. But let me offer two of these discussions with you.
On the social media I recently featured a C. S. Lewis quote that said in part: “The idea which here shuts out the Second Coming from our minds, the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience.” A friend entered into a discussion with me about this, and I hope she does not mind me posting our exchange here:
Her: Yes, I am concerned sometimes that Christians think we have to make some kind of utopia here, and that we can somehow stop the rot setting in even further. When clearly the Bible says God gives people over to their own unrighteousness. The madness we see now is partly because God has allowed people to corrupt themselves. It is not the Church’s responsibility to make this world sin-free, perfect, and a paradise on earth. We are here for a very short time, don’t curse the darkness that will always be there, shine a light. Sounds like a cliche but there it is, simplicity itself.
Me: Yes, as always it is getting the biblical balance right: we should seek to be salt and light now, while knowing that until Christ comes, a perfect world always will elude us.
Her: Yes, the salt can flavour the food but not change the food, the light can dispel the darkness, but the darkness is still there. We can hold up a light to the madness, but people are given free will to get lost in whatever depravity they wish and God gives them over to it. Can we change this? I do not think so, having spent years with a lobby group, that continually tried to change or stop laws that were immoral (to no avail) I realised sadly we are in the Romans 1 era of history. Do not curse the darkness but shine a light where you can. Nevertheless, it will still be there.
Me: Yes but we still seek to bring justice and righteousness in our communities and nations, knowing it can do great good but will not ultimately bring in the kingdom. Still, as Jesus told us to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). So again, we must strive for the biblical balance. I am quite glad for example that Wilberforce ‘continually tried to change or stop laws that were immoral’ – and to some very real avail!
Her: I do mostly agree: however, being involved with ACL and seeing the prayer, work, effort, petitioning and writing letters – all to no avail, still seeing the laws change. I do agree that we need to stand up, but we need to be realistic that much of what is happening today is prophesied (just as there is still slavery in the world I suppose). thinking out loud perhaps.
Me: Yes, but it is the ‘to no avail’ that we cannot really be certain of – we will never know this side of heaven just how effective all our efforts were and how much good they actually did, including lobbying efforts. But read my new article for more on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2023/06/03/your-role-in-the-bigger-story/
And yes slavery exists in some non-Western nations, but has largely disappeared in the West, again due to the lobbying and working of Wilberforce and others. Thus I will keep working and praying on so many other key issues as well! Defeatism and fatalism is just as unhelpful a response for the believer as is unrealistic idealism and naive optimism!
As can be seen, we were more or less on the same page, but some points were worth mentioning and stressing once again. In my second example, I received a comment to one of my website articles on the culture wars. The fellow said in part that Jesus also faced cancel culture and the like but he did not get involved or seek to gain political power or change the government, and so on.
He wrote in part:
Jesus said, His kingdom was not of this world. He didn’t come here to create a political empire. The goals of so many otherwise well meaning Christians today, especially in America, to create some sort of semi theocracy through a union of church and state, and thus contravening the constitution, is fraught with dangers that the American founding fathers strived to avoid. What we need today is not a political war against the woke culture. Remember, what is going on is but a symptom of a far wider and deeper conflict than is seen by the naked eye, the real war is between Christ and Satan.
He went on to say that preaching the gospel is what changes hearts, not politics, and our weapons of warfare are spiritual, etc. His were oft-repeated concerns that I have heard and addressed many dozens of times now. So this is how I replied to him:
Thanks, but yes and no. I have written about this so often that I do not want to repeat it all here. But a few quick points. Is the ultimate battle a spiritual battle? Yes of course it is. But that does NOT mean that this battle has nothing to do with life on planet earth. It manifests itself everywhere, including in the social, the political and the cultural arenas. It is impossible to obey the command of Christ to be salt and light if we think we can just disengage from this world (as if that were even possible), and have nothing to do with the very real battles that are taking place here. And it would be a complete abdication of our Christian responsibility to have Christ be Lord over all.
Just imagine if Wilberforce foolishly listened to his Christian critics who told him to stop wasting his time in political and cultural battles: we would still have slavery today. Praise God Wilberforce ignored that fully unhelpful and unbiblical advice, and sought to fully represent Christ in the world he lived in. I will follow suit, both praying and working for God’s Kingdom to come, just as Jesus told us to pray for.
And for biblical Christians to be greatly concerned about the massive war on their families, their faith, their freedom and their communities has nothing to do with creating a theocracy! It is called obeying the two great commandments about loving God and neighbour. But as I said, I have written on this plenty of times. For those who are interested, here is just one such piece: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/04/21/we-must-speak-truth-to-power/
So I will pray, preach the gospel, and work for justice in this world. Pretending I must choose some but not all will help no one but only make things worse.
Anyone familiar with me and my work and this website will find this to be all very familiar. But some things are so important, and can so often be misunderstood or twisted around, that sometimes just saying things over and over again is what we must do.
I still might get some folks asking ‘What is the point of such activism?’ Well, simply ask any one of millions of Blacks today what was the point of the abolition movement and its Christian activism. And anyone who is a parent or grandparent who cares deeply about children, about family, about faith, and about freedom will know full well what the point is.
Some things are worth standing up for. Some things are worth fighting for. And that includes fighting for a world where grown men do not demand to waltz into women and children’s bathrooms, change rooms, locker rooms, and so on. If you do not even care about women and children enough to speak out about stuff like this, then you gotta ask yourself some hard questions.
And guess what? Speaking out sometimes can do a tremendous amount of good. Just look at the massive people power resistance to the woke idiocy of the Bud Light buffoons, or the Target stores in America. Indeed, consider the “What is a Woman” video by Matt Walsh, just recently viewed well over 170 million times on Twitter!
People care about the utter destruction of their culture, and are willing to do something about it. That is what love of neighbour entails. If you see a 5-year-old neighbour playing on the street with a car approaching, you do not just sit there and mutter a prayer. You do not just tell them the gospel. The main thing you do is run to that child and try to get the speeding car to slow down or swerve, or try to get that child out of harm’s way. That is love in action.
This is not rocket science folks. Of course we pray for others. Of course we share the gospel with others. But being salt and light and standing against the tsunami of evil and unrighteousness in our culture is also a part of the Christian’s responsibility to faithfully serve their Lord in a fallen world.