Practical Concerns and Questions
What is the obligation of the Christian to the social order?
Being “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good” is not the Christian credo or action plan. As we have seen, the first priority of believers is the love God with everything we have and are. The first action of believers is to love others as much as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40). With those two things in mind, we have to ask ourselves what is the obligation of the Christian to the social order in which he or she finds themselves?
Believers must commit their first allegiance to God. Becoming a Christian follower of Jesus places us in the kingdom of God. Jesus also told believers to seek the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). This term is used in two ways in the Christian Scriptures. In the first sense, the kingdom of God refers to the future rule of God at the end of earthly history. The kingdom of God is used in a current sense as being the rule and reign of God in the hearts of people.
It is that sense of the term that concerns us at this point.
If God reigns in the hearts of believers, then things have changed in our lives from our formerly sinful and self-centered ways of acting and thinking. Our priorities and value systems are supposed to change. As we observe the “social order” or the current culture and its values and worldview, we observe that it is broken due to the sinful and self-centered way of thinking which belongs to those who exercise influence over the culture.
The solution, therefore, seems to be foremost one between individuals. As believers seek to love people and make disciples of them, the new disciples will change as they become better followers of Jesus. As believers, new and old alike, align themselves with the Christian worldview and seek to implement it, then the culture will be influenced by those believers.
How does this intersect with the pursuit of justice?
As we follow Jesus, our values will align more and more with Biblical values and principles and this alignment will also be reflected in how we view justice. Our view of justice should be guided and shaped by the values that we have examined thus far in the Biblical record and the theology of God’s attributes. We should use such values to examine and evaluate competing worldviews and systems of justice.
In developing lives and lifestyles which are consistent with the Christian worldview, we also find that government action will only promote justice in certain ways. It certainly cannot repair broken relationships between individuals. We will invariably encounter persons who have experienced injustice. If we reflect Christian values, we will act with empathy and seek understanding and possible solutions with them as fellow image bearers of God. In this way, believers can be both heavenly minded and earthly good.