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To influence or Not (Try) to Influence

October 5, 2016

OK, it’s October – but let’s not discuss what to do about Halloween. Instead let’s ask another probing question about life in the modern world: should we as Christians try and influence society and its legislators to conform to the ethical standards of the Bible?

To some of you, the answer is obvious: yes, of course we should. We are salt and light in this world, and we have a duty to resist the escalating moral rottenness of our society.

But to others, the answer is equally obviously no, that’s not our calling. And I have to admit that I have increasing sympathy for that point of view.

Linked to this debate is the vexing question: is Britain a Christian country? As for me, my answer is “no, not really”. Why? Because even though its legislation may stand on a somewhat biblical foundation and the Queen is the Head of the established Church, the vast majority of Brits are not followers of Jesus, parliament does not legislate on the basis of the Sermon on the Mount, and the prevailing worldview is secular, not religious.

If Britain was a Christian country, it would make sense to insist that her laws should reflect Christian ethics; but if she’s not, then we have to ask: is it legitimate for the church to try and make non-believers adhere to a moral code they have never signed up to?

As Christians we know that obeying God’s moral code is obviously better for society than humans writing their own rules; but if people don’t believe in this, can we really force them to comply? Or should we stick to preaching the Gospel?

This is a very complicated issue (especially when we take issues like abortion into the equation), but I’m increasing leaning towards the position that we should focus on evangelism. The only way people will accept biblical ethics is if they are Christians; the only way that will happen is if they hear and believe the Good News about Jesus. And tragically our insistence on judging society according to Christian morals often turns people away from Jesus.

If, on the other hand, they are invited to join the Kingdom of a Saviour who loves them, the moral code will follow (super)naturally. After all, Jesus commanded us to make disciples, not just to preach ethics.

What do you think? Let me know!


From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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