It seems necessary to address why and even if Christians should be involved in redeeming society and culture. There are many who deride such activity as being a diversion from the real work of the church, which in their minds is nothing more than articulating the personal plan of salvation (or “gospel,” very narrowly understood).
The late Christian theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer predicted in the 1970s that the culture of these United States was heading toward the embrace of those “two terrible values of personal peace and affluence.” While Dr. Schaeffer had many things in mind, I don’t think he fully envisioned how these “values” might adversely affect the modern Christian’s view of suffering and its necessity to working for the kingdom of God.
Understanding that the gospel according to the four Gospels is all about how the crucified, risen Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah through whom God has inaugurated His kingdom on earth; the people of God are those through whom God is establishing His kingdom and renewing the world. This is why we endeavor in those “good works that were prepared beforehand” (see Ephesians 2:10).
Nearly four years ago, we realized that in order to make any real progress in the war on poverty, we would have to first change the culture of poverty through the power of the gospel, so we launched an active “missions” strategy.
We started with outside missionaries living or working in the community.
The Christian church increasingly finds itself marginalized and shut out of the public square. Despite our constitutional protections for religious freedom, public hostility to Christianity is clearly on the rise. In short, the post-Christian era in the West has begun in earnest. This raises the question posed by the late theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer in his 1976 classic book, “How Shall We Then Live?” Schaeffer’s question anticipated a post-Christian world in which the West would jettison the values of Christianity and the Church would find itself at odds with the prevailing culture.
Last week, I wrote how the Great Commission is God’s strategy for the full conveyance of the gospel and the resulting transformation, including the transformation of those conditions that foster and sustain poverty in America.
Ironically, that very same day Barna Research, in partnership with the Seed Company, released their headline findings from a study that examined the U.S. Church’s ideas about missions, social justice, Bible translation and other aspects of spreading the gospel around the world.
People are often skeptical when I say we are “making poverty history.” However, the gospel has been making poverty history for more than 2000 years where it has been faithfully conveyed through God’s three-step plan for changing the world: The Great Commission (1. Go and make disciples [Christians]; 2. Join them to the church through baptism; 3. Teach them the truth related to all of reality and how to obey all that Christ commands regarding same).