By Nathan Jones
Should Christians fight for righteousness?
As Christians we are called to share the Gospel, leading hearts and lives to Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). But, we are also called by Jesus in Matthew 5:13-18 to be "salt and light" in the world, showing by our loving example what Jesus stands for. As Hebrews 13:16 states, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
And so, it is not just us sharing the Gospel that the Lord wants, though that's primary, but for us to share Jesus' love with everyone based on the living example He demonstrated for us while on earth (Lk. 10:27). And, what was Jesus' example? He healed the sick, fed the poor, showed mercy to the sinner, and gave the world the truth.
Not every Christian agrees with this direct approach to dealing with social evils, though. They believe the key to changing society is to focus solely on sharing the Gospel in the hope that changed lives will change society. One friend of the ministry kindly wrote in to share this view (and gave me permission to repurpose it here):
I just read your latest email about standing up for righteousness in the end times. I know my attitude is flawed, but here it is. I don't see the point in putting forth the effort in trying to bail the sinking ship of the world by trying to fight against unrighteousness when the world is surely and quickly heading to that "hot place" in a hand basket. I do believe we are in the end of the end times, and I do believe what is prophesied to transpire will transpire.
What's the point of trying to whitewash the house when the foundation is consumed by termites? Besides which, taking a stand against all the awful things going on in the world — too numerous to mention — only accomplishes polarization. Don't misunderstand, I stand for righteousness, and will gladly say so (whatever the issue) whenever the occasion arises. It would be wrong to do less. But, to go off with the agenda of finding a cause to crusade against and doing so... well, I just think it's a waste of precious time that could be better used preaching the gospel (rather than alienating those who most need to hear it) and warning of the soon return of Christ. This old world and world system is way beyond patching up, and in my opinion it's a waste of time to try to do so or even fight against it.
Instead I'd say, "Take that passion and go forth proclaiming the gospel and the soon return of Christ," (which I know Lamb and Lion does) and then live or die (if need be) for that, not some issue that will be irrelevant after the Kingdom is established. We'll never changed the behaviors of man until we change the hearts of man.
Presenting the Gospel is our Great Commission. We certainly cannot change the behaviors of man until we change the hearts of man, true, but as Christians we have to face the reality that we cannot bring more than a gleaning of the world to salvation. Today's days are just like the days of Noah when, "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). Just as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:37, the end times we live in will not be conquered for Christ without Jesus' actual return. Before Jesus' Second Coming, only a small fraction of the world will have their hearts changed by Jesus.
An interesting experience our ministry friend went through a short time after sending their first email helped them see the value in standing up against evil for righteousness' sake. They were willing to let us read the experience to encourage other believers to take action.
I wanted to share my experience regarding standing up for what you believe. I don't know if you'll recall, but I wrote a couple weeks ago expressing that — other than the gospel and soon return of Christ — I thought it a waste of time for Christians to get involved in secular matters. I kept that opinion until the following happened.
In my area we have what is colloquially referred to as "sexpresso stands" with "pastie baristas" who wear near to nothing and sometimes provide "extra services." I'll leave that to your imagination. I have two within 1/4 mile of my driveway. Of course, as a Christian I'm unhappy with this, but I've never said anything, mostly because it's like spitting in the wind to do so.
However, when the contributing editor of our local paper wrote an article stating that all of us who objected were old fashioned prudes who needed to get over it, I was prompted to act. I wrote a brief and to the point opinion to the paper. See below:
"I'm writing in response to Rob Woutat's 'Barely Clad Barista' article of 3/12/10. I find both the baristas and patrons of these stands to be pitiable. How is it that we've raised our daughters with so little self respect that they are willing to sell the viewing of their bodies to merchandize a cup of coffee plus tips? And how is it that the customer's have so little self control that, at the promise of seeing a little flesh, they lose control of something below the waist — their wallets? The greater fault lies with the owners of the stands who exploit the baristas and the public and callously denigrate the morals of the community just to make a buck. How is that we, the people, allow this? If we don't stop this now we will soon be seeing a lot more nudity in a lot more public places. I guarantee it."
Of course, I subsequently got lambasted by a lot of hate email from people with pseudo email names who hadn't learned to spell yet. I expected as much, so I didn't think much of it other than I was surprised that out of 80+ responses there was only one person who felt as I do and was willing to say so.
However, yesterday I went to a medical appointment and was quite surprised when the receptionist rushed up to me effusing, "You are my hero! I read what you wrote in The Sun and I agree with everything you said! I had an incident at one of those stands." Later, when we were alone I asked her about the "incident." She related that she, nearly nine months pregnant with her and her husband's second child, had driven by one of the stands to find her husband parked in line.
I've pondered all of this, and I know a lot of people feel like I do about the issue; but they are hesitant to say anything because they don't want to put up with all the flak that is sure to follow. But, I see now that in many cases it's not enough to mentally assent to what's right. You need to have the courage to stand up for your convictions, otherwise those who are being hurt have no ally.
As Edmund Burke (1729-1797) warned so well, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Use the time we have left on earth wisely to make a difference in people's lives, being "salt and light" for Jesus Christ. Teach the world the Gospel, but in life and action show them the difference between good and evil. Do as our friend counsels, "have the courage to stand up for your convictions, otherwise those who are being hurt have no ally."
Who can fathom what opportunities to share the Gospel will arise and great things God will bring about from your speaking out against evil?