Making the Big Transition (I)

The familiarity of present troubles makes men hesitate to seek risky improvements in their condition. The risks of change seem too high, and the benefits seem too few or too far removed. Men choose today’s horrors in preference to tomorrow’s unfamiliar problems, even if those problems will be accompanied with the personal freedom to deal with them. Responsibility is too great a burden for slaves.[1]

The Christian person must be willing to change, because change is a vital part of Christian maturity. The passivity of Christians in western society has meant that Socialism (the dominant western political philosophy for two generations) has made its grand promises, but has only produced forms of slavery, abuse, dependence and the destruction of capital.

Why? It is dependent upon the redistribution of people’s wealth according to the government’s socialist’s ideology. Socialist governments take vast amounts of money from the productive people in the community and gives it to unproductive people such as bureaucrats, who are directed to throw it at government directed political schemes.

Christians must realise this. But much more, they have to realise that they have to be the ones in the community who are to be in the vanguard of change. Salvation has to “come out of Zion” (Ps.14:7); it cannot come from any other source.

Christians must stop thinking like socialists. We are thinking like socialists when we say about some social problem, “well, the government should do something about it.” Why don’t WE do something about it? If we think being a Christian is a good idea for anybody, isn’t it about time we start showing why God’s way is always the best way?

This means greater levels of individual and family responsibility. It means individuals, families and churches working together in an interdependent manner. It also means the Church as an institution in every locality, steadily assuming fundamental responsibility for the care of widows, orphans, the poor and aliens.  Why? Because these are the people God has said are the vulnerable people in every community, who need protecting.

That will require a lot of thought, planning, effort and responsibility, so that scarce resources are not dissipated. It will require our tithing, which is one of the most neglected areas of Christian behaviour today. It will require elders thinking a lot more consistently with the Bible about what the Church is doing, and why. It means thinking (as Paul did in I Tim.5:3-16) about which widows are to be eligible for Church help, and why.

Think of this verse: “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). This means that Christians are to be active people in the community, giving themselves to all manner of tasks for the sake of the kingdom of God.

A Prime Minister of England, William Gladstone, did this. An evangelical, he was legitimately concerned for prostitutes. With his wife, he took them into their home with a view to helping them find new employment, knowing that their manner of life was both immoral and destructive. This made him in my mind a great man.

Now, you might say, “that’s a very big call, Andrew.” Of course it is. It is probably too much for most of us, and we would rather leave this for someone else. But we dare not throw everything in the too-hard basket, because that is what has gotten into this mess.

If we have complained about the state of the nation (and I most certainly have), we must begin as Christians to be net contributers to the community and the nation. This may mean taking a bag of apples to a widow, showing hospitality to an individual or a family which  has fallen on difficult times, visiting someone who is chronically ill and cleaning their windows or their house, or visiting someone in prison, or countless other opportunities.

This is the sort of thing Jesus Christ commended in Mat.25:31-46. He said to the righteous people, “…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least of them, you did it to Me” (v.40).

You cannot have such a transition without a major change of attitude, right throughout the Church. And where does this begin? With one word: responsibility.

I have a favourite saying which I got from Gary North: Power flows to those that take responsibility. Jesus Christ took total responsibility for the sins of the world, and now He has total power in this world. We aren’t to be sin bearers as He was, but we are to take responsibility and act accordingly, wherever we may be placed in the world. This is what we were originally commanded by God to do: “…rule and have dominion…” (Gen.1:26-28).

To say this will require a transition is really an understatement; it will require a quantum shift in the Church’s approach, right across the board. But as we begin to make that shift, and find ourselves confronting vast challenges we had hardly considered before, we can trust in the grace of God to direct us.

Taking responsibility is not easy, but this has always been God’s plan for His people. We can do it in the Church, even if our resources seem meagre. Remember, Jesus worked a miracle through a boy with five loaves and two fishes, and He is willing to do great things through His people when they act obediently towards Him. That is one of the great themes of the Bible.

Are you ready to step up to the mark?

[1] North, G., “Moses and Pharoah,” 1986, p.145.

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