Practical Concerns and Questions
Do Christians care about the whole person or just the soul?
Have you ever heard a Christian believer described as being “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good?” This is an old phrase, but one that is loaded with meaning. Some Christians react to the prevailing culture, especially in the United States, by pursuing a path of separation and avoiding cultural issues and engagement. This occurs in the more fundamentalist denominations and movements in Christianity.
In Christian belief, salvation is not merely “heavenly fire-insurance,” which allows the believer to pursue all manner of behaviors in the same way as those who are not saved. Nor should salvation produce the desire to shut oneself into a fortress and avoid “the world.” As believers, we find ourselves in this world, but we are not to adhere to the self-centered philosophy of this world (I John 2:15). What, therefore, is the Christian priority?
From the human perspective, eternity is a long time. Sin separates us from a holy God. This is both now and in the future. Eventually, God will separate the sinners from the believers and the sinners will go to an eternal Hell (Matt. 25:31-46). This becomes our primary concern: where we and others will spend eternity. Jesus Christ came to this earth to provide salvation and an eternal relationship with God through His sacrifice on the cross. Anyone who repents and believes in Him will be saved (Acts 16:31).
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded that the first was to love God with all of our being (Matt. 22:36-40). This become, for the believer, his or her primary allegiance. This priority becomes the basis for how the believer acts in this world.
Jesus goes on to say that we should also love other as much as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39). This becomes our primary action and interaction with “the world.” We do not adhere to the selfish philosophy of the world, but we show love to others in the attempt to bear witness to salvation through Jesus and ask them to follow Christ as His disciples.
How does this relate to the pursuit of justice in this world? We have seen in our study of God’s attributes that He does care about justice. God does want to see people receiving fair treatment in their interactions. God does see the plight of those who are the victims of injustice (Ex. 3:7). From the eternal perspective, we seek the eternal salvation of individuals. From the temporal perspective, we should seek to live rightly and interact rightly in the world. Christian believers are to be “heavenly minded” and to be “earthly good.”