As Christians we are in a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:7-13 makes this abundantly clear. We have an enemy who longs to knock us “off-track”. We are on the road to heavenly glory and Satan can do nothing about that; the victory has been won in and through Christ Jesus our LORD. However, Satan now wants us to get to heaven, badly. He wants us to live ineffective lives.
One of the ways in which the devil does this is for him to get our priorities all mixed up. He makes us direct our energies in ways which lead to no glory for God and are not for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. To use the imagery from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, he sends us into a by-path meadow.
One particular area where this is a danger focuses upon how we respond to the world around us. Our Saviour instructed the disciples Peter and Andrew, when He called them to discipleship / service, to “Come, follow Me”, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). We are likewise called to be fishing for men. People all around us have been taken captive by the devil to do his will (see 2 Tim. 2:28). People around us are dead in trespasses and sins (see Eph. 2:1b). They are walking the road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13b). God has called us to be fishers of such people. And the only bait which catches people for Christ is the gospel.
People around us need to know the gospel. It is through believing the gospel that salvation comes into someone’s life. It is through this message that they obtain peace with God (see Rom. 5:1). And as a result they are ready to meet their God and be welcomed into glory.
No doubt many problems afflict the world in which we live, but in our interaction with people the gospel should be our priority. This, of course, reflects the ministry of our Saviour who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10b). And remember, when He was born, the great declaration from heaven was of a Saviour who was given the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21b).
When we think of our Saviour’s mission in coming to earth we see how the transformation of society is not the key issue. The key issue is the transformation of lives. Accordingly, the fact that there was a measure of peace pertaining in society, when He was born, through the so-called Pax Romana was not sufficient. Rather at that time angels spoke of a different peace (see Luke 2:14b). We easily read over that, but it was a statement which in one sense was quite startling. There were no wars at the time and everything seemed peaceful. However, to have no wars does not mean that there is peace with God. His favour rests on those who start to fear God repent of their sin and believe the gospel. These people have peace; real peace. All this we read about in Luke 2:10-15. True peace does not come through peace treaties, but through the gospel.
Nevertheless, the world around us will be made more thoughtful of their need of Christ when they see our interest in them as we live with love and good works. So our Saviour exhorts His disciples (and us) let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt.5:16b). In many ways Christians should be at the forefront of showing mercy in the community, by this we show people that we love them and are interested in them. Through this opportunities can be afforded to introduce people to Christ and the gospel. In a world crying out for love let us bring that love in a practical way.
However, we need to be careful to make sure that we remember that the main thing is the gospel. That gospel which saves us from our sins. Satan would de-rail us by placing all our emphasis on transforming society through good works. The best of works do not transform society. Society is transformed by people coming to Christ, one by one.
A further great danger in losing our focus on the gospel is that as Christians we start to be set against one another. We are drawn together in Christ through the gospel and only through the gospel. When we start to focus on transforming the world through other means then we can start to set ourselves against one another. So in respect of the recent (and ongoing) conflict in the Middle East between Hamas and Israel in Gaza we can very soon be taking sides. Rather we are called to peacemakers. We are called to bring people together in Christ. This world will never have peace until the Prince of Peace comes. He is the One who will establish a righteous kingdom. But now He is rejected. However, when individuals receive Him they are placed in the family of God regardless of race, language, gender or whatever.
So our big concern should be the gospel and thereby to follow the injunction of the LORD to the eleven. He said: “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20). Let us then be gospel people who live the gospel.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter from March 2009)