13 Jun Succumbing To A Universally Accepted Gospel?
During a crisis, be it a pandemic, a civil unrest or a natural calamity, we’re easily drawn to a societal cause. And often during such times, the line between humane ideas and the gospel is blurred. And the church will run the danger of leaning on either side of the societal issue and as a result losing its passion in preaching the gospel. Most often than not, we will see the church succumb to what I call “a universally accepted gospel”.
The church will tend to put its emphasis on humanitarian work, love, respect, empathy, racial harmony, and the like. Now, don’t get me wrong. The gospel definitely embraces and brings about such attributes of humanity. But the gospel in essence is nothing human, to start with. It is not in the good works of men. It has nothing to do with the empathy and compassion of some philanthropic ideas. It is not even about the love which you and I are talking about.
Rather, it is a gospel from heaven. And <Ro 1:18> says: A revelation from heaven reveals the godlessness and wickedness of all men, who suppresses the truth of God. There is in fact no one righteous. <Isa 64:6> says even all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. They are so filled with the personal motives and intentions of men, and God knows very well that they are all done before the sight of men to gain merits and approval.
So does the gospel brings about good works? Yes. But it must first reveal the sin and wickedness of men, and from there comes the salvation of God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and there comes the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Now, I am putting the gospel in one long sentence, but you could get that from the book of Romans. But the question now is are we preaching the gospel amidst a chaotic world? Are we turning the hearts of men to the holy and righteous God through the preaching of the gospel at heart? Now, as the world gets more chaotic, confused and devastated by the works of sin, the churches of God tends to easily forget its calling to preach an uncompromised and non-truncated gospel, but easily lean towards a universally accepted gospel. Churches could be drawn to fight the wrong battle. And then you will see believers get all fire up about helping the poor and unprivileged, or advocating who to vote for in a national election, getting all work up talking about LGBT and abortion issues, and even taking to the streets to protest against a rogue regime. Yet, in the mist of this, the only thing that could be neglected is the preaching of the gospel.
Now, I believe Christians should have a high view of these issues. We have very clear positions from the truth of God, where social issues are concerned. However, our allegiance is to the preaching and witnessing of the gospel, which is the salvation for all mankind, that could inevitably bring about the genuine transformation of lives. Now, you will not have good works being neglected, or unprivileged people being cast away when the gospel is being preached. But you will have a problem with the poor and unprivileged people, together with their needs increasing endlessly when the gospel is not preached or not preached rightly. Now, the book of Acts in <Acts 6:1-4> provides a good example for us in this area?
<Acts 6:1-4> In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Now, what do you get out of this passage? First, there was an increased in needs when the number of believers increases. So an oversight in the distribution of food occurs. That’s the reality. Yet the apostles knew very well the preaching of the gospel, that is brought about by their meditation of the word and prayer must not be neglected. Which means to say the preaching of the gospel was not compromised because of a need or a conflict arising in the church. And as a result of that, the apostles raise up capable servant leaders among the people to deal with such needs. So were the needs of people met? Were the unprivileged people taken care of? Yes. So we can safely conclude that when the preaching of the gospel is cautiously upheld, the just and wise workings of the Holy Spirit moves in the church community. But if the church is to neglect the preaching of the gospel, and get everyone all fire up with social needs and injustices, I afraid that will only drain the church and create more issues in the end.
Now, how about if you are working in a secular world? The secular world doesn’t know about the gospel. They only embrace humanity. Human love, kindness and empathy are the things they are looking out for.
Now with that, I am going to give you 3 principles to work through.
1. Profess your unwavering faith (profess your faith) as a Christian.
This is first and foremost. By that, people will know that your good works come from your faith, and give glory to God. So even if you are working in a secular society as a teacher, an engineer, an accountant, or a doctor, I see no reason why you could not profess your faith.
2. Subtly show that your values and beliefs are not totally driven for a humanitarian cause (not for humanitarian cause).
Meaning, show that you are not just advocating love, empathy kindness or respect per se. But more than that, show others that there is a Master in your life whose Words you take as the guiding principle in your life. Show others that you are doing something responsibly, or you are showing love and kindness because of a Master in your life, not merely because you are good and kind by nature. And I think people like Joseph and Daniel has done that so well that the King whom they serve will always attribute their success to the God they are serving. And for that, sometimes, you may have to deviate from certain norms that the usual people are doing. For example, you may want to faithfully observe church life and be involved in church ministries even when your company demands your full commitment at work.
3. Always be ready to testify (testify the gospel) about the goodness of the Lord even to non-believers.
Now, nothing can profess your faith better than speaking it. You cannot bring people to Christ merely by good works itself. People need to know what is the saving grace of God by the very words of your lips. Well, you may think it’s near to impossible in this secular world. Now I would say, be led by the Spirit, and you will see there are moments of fragility even among strong men where they could be receptive to a heavenly gospel.