Some days ago I turned on the radio to catch the news at noon, and caught the last few minutes of the prayer time my Christian radio station has right before 12:00. As I listened, I heard the announcer pray for “a revival of Biblical values” in our society. I stopped in my tracks and thought, “What?”
I’m sure he meant well, and I am pretty sure I know what he meant, but that request struck me as a little off-base. I had the same reaction as I do when people speak of “reclaiming our culture for Christ.” I know they don’t mean this, but it brings to mind a 50s-style era where people were at least fairly decent in their lifestyles and even to some extent “God-fearing.” The problem is you can have a pleasant culture exactly like that with most of its members totally lost and on their way to hell.
I don’t think we’re called to reclaim cultures or promote Biblical values without the underlying base of trying to introduce people to the Lord. He has called us to make disciples. That kind of change comes from within and then influences a person’s actions which will then result in a change of values. Trying to promote Biblical values without a heart change is coming at things from the outside. It may make a person easier to live with, but it doesn’t change their destiny or character. But in this postmodern era, especially, Biblical values don’t make sense to someone without a Biblical heart.
I don’t mean that Christians should not be active in government. I’ve been listening to bits of Stephen Davey’s message “Stay on Task” (in other places it appears to be named “I Pledge Allegiance, Part II”) on the radio. I agree with the general thrust of his message that “The mission of the church is not moral reformation, but spiritual transformation” and “Our true battle is against the kingdom of darkness which has blinded the minds of the world to believe that God is not watching.” (It’s a great message – I encourage you to listen to or read it). On the other hand, just because Jesus or the apostles never tried to organize voters or push for campaign issues doesn’t mean it is wrong to do so. Unlike Bible times, we do have a government in these days where we can use our voice. We should first of all pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:1-3). And personally I believe we should at least vote, as intelligently as possible. To be given such a gift at this time in history and not use it would be terribly negligent. Some might be called to do more, as described in the article “Is Voting Enough?” I think it is good for Christians to be involved in government as in every other segment of society, to be salt and light there. Since our government can be influenced by our voices, I am grateful for some who keep on top of issues, stand for the right, keep voters informed, and voice our concerns to our representatives. I don’t believe our ultimate hope is in government, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tool in God’s hands that can be used for good. Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” God didn’t tell people to abandon their horses, but He told them rather to remember that ultimately safety is of Him. Our trust is in Him, not in any tools, even though He may use various tools to accomplish His objectives.
And in past history He has done so without a conservative culture or a representative form of government. I am extremely thankful for both of those and I hope we keep them. But the church can and should thrive with or without them. In Paul’s time, dictators were in power, yet the church grew in numbers and in character.
While we can and should use the tools at our disposal, those pursuits should never take priority over the basics of what God has called us to: being salt and light wherever we are, showing His love and grace to people, and telling them about the only God and Savior who alone can save them and meet their needs.