(Editor’s note: read part 1 here.)
I believe that Christians are, can be, and should be the greatest force for good in our country. Yet they have done very little to slow, stop, or otherwise avert the gradual, steady, relentless decline of our country.
I have identified 8 common Biblical, theological, social, and political beliefs that I believe are keeping Christians from being that important necessary good for our country.
The second belief is a separation of the secular and the spiritual. This is based on a saying of Jesus: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:13–17 (NASB95)
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him [Jesus] in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, . . . Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius [a certain coin] to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
For many if not most Christians, this divides the world in half. There is a secular world, and there is a spiritual world. They will pay their taxes and vote, and that can pretty much sum up their obligations to Caesar or the government.
But, again, as in point 1, in the United States, the government is not a separate entity from the people. We are the government. Not to get involved is like leaving your house doors open, your cars unlocked, and your savings in a shoe box under your bed.
But the world is separated into a spiritual life and a secular life. And the spiritual is infinitely more important than the secular. There are spiritual activities that require enormous amounts of whatever free time a person has.
First of all, every Christian needs to spend time every day in personal devotions. The more, the better. This includes personal Bible study, worship, and prayer.
More and more churches are also insisting that everyone belong to a small group, where the same activities are repeated but with an added social dynamic. Together, the group studies the Bible or another book that is read during the week and discussed. The group often will meet at other times for projects or fun things just to build relationships. But every person is strongly encouraged, or pressed, to be actively related to a number of other people to share their personal lives and struggles.
Many Christians will also be a part of another Bible study group during the week because you simply can’t get enough Bible. And I am not being facetious here. These are generally of greater depth than a small group study and require a considerable amount of homework.
Then, of course, there is church itself. Most conservative churches used to have three different services a week that the more faithful would never miss under penalty of not being considered a really committed Christian. Now, many only have the Sunday morning or weekend service that one needs to attend to be in good standing.
But there are many, many other ways to be involved; and this is a sign of your spiritual maturity. Every person is encouraged or expected to do something or be a part of another group in the church, whether it is helping out in the nursery, the youth, the nursing home, the soup kitchen, the men’s group, the women’s group, committees, or cleanup.
Not only is every available bit of free time away from your prioritized personal family time accounted for, but also all your available money. Conservative churches generally teach the tithe, with many of them practically making it a requirement or sign of real commitment to the church and God. The tithe, of course, is giving ten percent of your (gross) income to God, often meaning the local church. And there are many, many other Christian organizations doing great things that need your contributions.
The Christian life is a very full one, in every way. They are exhorted to reach the world for Christ; but often, they don’t really have much contact with anyone who is not a Christian outside of work.
But anything outside of strictly religious activities and personal acts of charity is secular and of a much lower value in the scheme of things. And even if the case is made for their importance, who has the time for one more thing?
The Christian life and culture has become a separate, co-existing culture parallel to a secular culture. Christians often will mimic some aspect of secular culture to prove its relevance to the world. They will attend the same movies and listen to music that sounds much the same, though with spiritual words; but they live in a parallel universe. They need to stay closely engaged with other Christians so they don’t become worldly.
But this division between the secular and the spiritual has taken many Christians out of the rest of life in order to live the life they want to live.
They have often been criticized by the world as being judgmental and hypocritical, but I have been amazed constantly by their generosity and acts of compassion to those in need. But these are personal acts of generosity and personal acts of compassion. Someone I know is giving her car to a single mom.
But life outside of the local church, one’s immediate family, and organizations devoted to evangelism or personal charity is deemed pretty much to be secular and markedly less important than that inside.
Photo Credit: John H. Wright (Creative Commons)
Please share this post with your friends and comment below. If you haven't already, take a moment to sign up for our free newsletter above and friend us on Twitter and Facebook to get real time updates.