A Christian’s Primary Focus

Collin Hansen has written a fine essay examining how Christians ought to prioritize their limited time, treasure, and talent — it’s entitled Mission Critical and can be read in its entirety over at The Gospel Coalition.

Essentially his essay takes a look at what is the primary responsibility of any Christian. While many in the church would argue Christians should invest their time in the political process so that our society might reflect the principles of Scripture, Hansen leans more toward a Gospel-focused mission. And I agree.

The Great Commission was not a call to build great societies, it was a call to build Christ’s Church. Our goal is not to force people to adhere to biblical principles through the enforcement of law, it is to have them embrace biblical principle through hearts changed by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t forget, the law was given to us to show us our need for a Savior. We are incapable of obeying the law. The law condemns us…

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. — Romans 3:20

To make matters worse, Jesus pointed out that keeping the letter of the law is insufficient.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” — Matthew 5:21-22

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” — Matthew 5:27-28

According to Jesus, the sin is not in the action itself, the sin is embedded in the heart. The action just reveals the sin already present. This is a much tougher standard.

So, if we succeed in owning the political process and passing laws that perfectly mirror Scripture and we further succeed in convincing men to follow that law, what have we really done? We have succeeded in getting men to behave as something they are not (because the sin is still present in their hearts) and we have made the world a better place to go to hell from.

That’s it.

For this reason I consider politics to be a dangerous distraction for Christians. It prevents us from keeping the main thing the main thing, which is to share the Gospel and let God change men from the inside out.

Hansen concludes his essay with a quote from Abraham Kuyper, the noted Dutch theologian. And, as is always the case, the noted theologian said it better than I ever could…

“I give thanks that so many Christians look at the social decay around them and want to make a difference. We should remember, however, the wisdom of theologians who have gone before us. In particular, Abraham Kuyper’s “Sphere Sovereignty” distinguishes between the responsibility of the state, society, and the church. What we see now in the West is a breakdown of society, which includes families, voluntary organizations, and local communities. The government has overstepped its responsibility by seeking to occupy this sphere. Our financial crisis and political stalemate should disabuse us of any notion that the government is capable of replacing these so-called mediating institutions.

But neither can or should the church bear this burden; otherwise, it will lose sight of the unique mission Jesus gave us. And that would be a critical loss indeed for all who need above anything else to hear and believe his liberating gospel. Perhaps if we trust God to demonstrate the power of this gospel to save, he will rebuild the fabric of our torn society.” — Abraham Kuyper

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

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