“Would you not see that the main concern of the church is to preach the gospel, baptize, disciple believers in matters concerning their lives as believers in Christ JESUS? HE himself did not come to affect or change political, social, or economic status in the present world. Noah was not commissioned to alter social conditions. PAUL in his ministry and mission did not focus on changing the social status of the then known world. His message was, ‘BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS PRESENT BUT BE YOU TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND [Rom. 12:2]. . . . CHRIST JESUS HAS GONE TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR BELIEVERS AND HE WILL COME AGAIN TO RECIEVE US UNTO HIM SELF’ [John 14:3].”
The above was sent to me by an anonymous emailer. I suspect that its sentiments are representative of how many Christians believe. Let’s look at the opening question which is more of a statement. Certainly Christians are to preach the gospel, baptize, and disciple. Notice how the writer wants to limit discipleship to “matters concerning their lives as believers in Christ JESUS.” Discipleship is being limited to the personal. But Jesus doesn’t put a limitation on the broadness of discipleship (Matt. 28:18–20). Notice that its “nations” that are to be discipled. In a short response to the emailer, I pointed out that Jesus did not marry or have children. He didn’t own a house or have a job. In fact, He didn’t own anything: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20).
If we follow the logic of the anonymous emailer, Christians should not get married, have children, own a home, or posses anything other than the bare necessities which would make us perpetual beggars. Many Christians with a similar worldview don’t seem to have a problem taking advantage of what the “world” creates. Christians bellyache and become super-spiritual by claiming that they are above the things of the world, but they don’t seem to have a problem using the internet. “Everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:2).
Someone might respond by claiming that marriage, having children, and owning possessions are found elsewhere in Scripture. If this is true, and it is, then the same can be said about social issues and politics. How is it possible for Paul to describe the civil magistrate as a “minister of God” (Rom. 13:4) and then maintain that Christians should avoid any participation with this ministry? Paul called on his rights as a Roman citizen when he was about to be beaten by a Roman:
“But when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, ‘Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?’ When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, saying, ‘What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.’ The commander came and said to him, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ The commander answered, ‘I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.’ And Paul said, ‘But I was actually born a citizen.’ Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains” (Acts 22:25–29).
Seemingly not learning his lesson, Paul later appealed to Caesar (25:11). Romans had the rights of citizenship. Jews did not. The Jews were captives in their own country. They couldn’t get involved in politics since they didn’t have any political standing. Their own legal system was curtailed by the provincial government that was ruling over them. This was not the case during the time Israel was a sovereign nation.
What about the emailer’s claim about Noah? Noah is said to have been a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). It’s hard to believe that there weren’t social and political sins in his day that he preached against. The Bible is filled with moral instruction that touches on every area of life, social issues and politics included.