The church is concerned with every sphere of life
The Lord Jesus instructed us about the tight rope we walk—to be
“in the world, but not of the world”
(see John 17:14-18).
A great deal of our privilege and responsibility means prayer for the civil realm and for those responsible to lead nations and states. Those charged as civil overseers are ordained by God—he raises them up, he puts them down; and to be sure, this includes the ungodly, for they too carry out his purposes. So we pray and we serve. And during this week of the Inauguration for the office of the President of the USA, it is no different—more prayer and more Christ-fueled service.
We are to do as much good as possible to be salt and light, to be Christians—sinful and rebellious as we are—to work, evangelize, and set forth hope anticipating that God will one day usher in his full and final glory made visible by Christ’s Lordship.
Fundamentally, weekly worship with God’s people has a way of reminding us how the gospel gives shape to our Monday through Saturday lives out in the realms of the family and in civic participation: Jesus Christ is Lord and one day, every tongue will confess him. Because he is Lord what an incentive to know that our labor is not in vain.
John Murray, OPC minister and professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, reminds us:
“When laws are proposed or enacted that are contrary to the Word of God, it is the duty of the church in proclamation and in official pronouncement to oppose and condemn them. . . . It is misconception of what is involved in the proclamation of the whole counsel of God to suppose or plead that the church has no concern with the political sphere. The church is concerned with every sphere and is obligated to proclaim and inculcate the revealed will of God as it bears upon every department of life.”
Read more of Murray, in the chapter, “The Church, Its Identity, Function, and Resources” in his Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 1 (Banner of Truth, 1976), p. 241.
“To the church is committed the task of proclaiming the whole counsel of God and, therefore, the counsel of God as it bears upon the responsibility of all persons and institutions. While the church is not to discharge the functions of other institutions such as the state and the family, nevertheless it is charged to define what the functions of these institutions are. . . . To put the matter bluntly, the church is not to engage in politics. Its members must do so, but only in their capacity as citizens of the state, not as members of the church.”
Read more of Murray, in the chapter, “The Relation of Church and State,” in his Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 1 (Banner of Truth, 1976), 255.
Over the years I have picketed businesses of pornography hoping to close such places of filth and I have walked city streets with Christians on Pro-Life Sunday aiming to communicate disagreement with the legalization of elective abortions of the unborn. About 30 years ago, I walked through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C. with some 18,000 taking part in evangelization of passers-by. That Walk on Washington was intended to hold forth a Christian voice to the lost. Back four-five years ago, I had prayer with a city manager. Additionally, my wife and I have sought to be a listening ear to those troubled with the hardships of sin and its consequential backwash. We’ve helped with overbearing strife in the home, forgotten young people at a youth ranch, and aggravated relationships due to sexual sin. We continue to encourage adoption and foster care of children. It’s listening, helping, serving, and praying.
Back to the basic, square-one role of the church: it is preaching, evangelism and discipleship. They remain key pegs upon which to hang how the church and the Christian must be salt and light; as Murray says, “The church is concerned with every sphere and is obligated to proclaim and inculcate the revealed will of God as it bears upon every department of life.” We are in the world and yet not of it. It’s a tough go for all; and it’s a go that will be carried out solely by faith in Christ Jesus, and it will be that faith working itself out with love.
Thanks to Justin Taylor, through his blog posts, for directing me to the quotes from John Murray.