Thursday: Christianity and the Social Order
avatar

Despite knowing that human organizations and governments are flawed and sometimes sinful, and despite their bad experiences with governments and religious leaders, both Paul and Peter urged early Christians to submit to human authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-17, Rom. 13:1-10). Christians, they say, should pay taxes and contribute to compulsory labor obligations. As far as possible, Christians were to be model citizens.

Render unto Caesar

Image © Pacific Press Publishing Assn. Goodsalt.com

Read Acts 5:27-32. What is the relationship between the obedience that Peter says to render to the authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-17) and what Peter and the other apostles actually did in this one incident?

The early successes of the Christian church led to the arrest of Peter and John (Acts 4:1-4). They had been questioned by the rulers, elders, and scribes, and then let go with a stern warning that they should desist from preaching (Acts 4:5-23). Soon afterward they were arrested again and asked why they had not followed what the authorities told them to do (Acts 5:28). Peter replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

What crucial truth must we take from these words?

Peter was not being a hypocrite, saying one thing and doing another. When it became an issue of following God or following human beings, the choice was clear. Until then, Christians should be supportive and obedient to government, even if they also work to try to bring about positions of social change. When moral issues are at stake, Christians have been and still should be involved in legally promoting the kind of social changes that reflect the values and teaching of Jesus. How this should be done depends upon many factors, but being a loyal and faithful citizen doesn’t automatically mean that a Christian can’t or shouldn’t seek to help improve society.

Read Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39. How might the command to love our neighbor as ourselves include the need to work for change when that change could indeed make life better and fairer for your neighbor?
Amen!(26)

Comments

Thursday: Christianity and the Social Order — 27 Comments

  1. The Bible declares boldly that tithe, marriage and Sabbath are holy,and that, we as Christian should uphold their sanctity.There comes a time when the govt enacts a law allowing the same sex marriage of which in my perception puts directly the moral issues at stake. As a Christian, at this point of life is activism allowed?

    Amen!(15)
    • Peter replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

      Inasmuch as we should obey the govt law, Gods law disagrees with same sex marriage. We shouldn't limit ourselves to the law of the govt.

      Amen!(2)
        • William: there are many laws in the US which enforce gay marriage. If you are a for-profit employer, insurance company, baker or employee of the state, the law stipulates (enforces) that you must treat a gay marriage as equal to a marriage between a man and a woman. This directly contradicts what God has ordained.

          While Pastors in non-profit churches are protected by law from being forced to perform same-sex marriages, in some states churches are not so protected (e.g., Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572B-9.5, requiring churches to allow use of their facilities for civil unions if they allow use of their facilities for non-member weddings). These are referred to as Public Accommodations Statutes.

          Moreover, if a person is employed by the state to perform marriages (e.g., Magistrate), that person is compelled (forced) to perform all marriages that are legal in that state, including gay marriages.

          Sooner or later, many Christians in America will face the same dilemma that Peter and John faced (Acts 5:29) and only by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8) will they stand on the side of God (Acts 4:19-20).

          Amen!(1)
    • Define activism, remember Christians love sinners, not sin! Do we actively fight against gossips or those who spread false comments as much as we actively fight against same sex marriages? Are our motives clear? Bring honor to God in all we do, that others will see your good works and praise God! Love sinners, hate sin!

      Amen!(16)
    • Yes if it were the Sabbath or the tithe we would speak out against it because we may judge that it is safer to do so. However the true test of our Christianity comes when we who are Kingfom Citizens are not willing to be silient about anything that goes against God's order and negatively affects society and the institutions of church, school and the family. As Christians we need to speak out against such evils knowing full well the possible consequences but having no fear of what man or the devil can do unto us.

      Amen!(13)
      • How would you purpose to speak out against such rubbish? I would not go international with it. I Don't believe Christ did. I would start by teaching my kids what is right, my SS, my church, seminars, rather than an out cry. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
        Micah 6:8 KJV.
        After all you are NOT required by law to take part in rubbish. The church is a hospital for sinners. In hospitals we strive to make people well again with ...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.
        Galatians 5:22 KJV

        Amen!(1)
    • I believe there is a difference between government allowing something - like same sex marriage - and forcing me to marry someone of the same sex.

      Amen!(20)
      • I believe in situations like these, and same sex marriage issue is only an example, God expects his church and his representatives on earth ( Christians) to maintain clearly the standards he has established. So our role is as standard bearers preaching God's will in cases like this even if it is unpopular based on laws our government has enacted. If activism is necessary at times, fine, but that activism I agree should be defined by loving the sinner while hating the sin. That is how Christ has always ministered and we should examine all our 'activism' efforts which are contrary to the current social/political order using this measure.

        Amen!(6)
        • We are not to sit idly by while those around us trample on God's will or on His other children. Indeed, there are severe consequences for "looking the other way" ("hide their eyes..." Leviticus 20:4-5).

          We cannot simply say "I didn't do it" while observing others trample on God's will (Matthew 25:43-44). Jesus always identifies with the victims of injustices against God's children (Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45).

          Amen!(1)
      • Hi Shirley. I don't think that is the main point of what God expects from us. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), there was no law forbidding the priest and the Levite from "passing on the other side" (Luke 10:31-32). That doesn't justify their inaction.

        I am not arguing for militant activism but God tells us we will be held accountable for our failure to oppose the evil around us and remaining silent when we should speak up (Ezekiel 3:18).

        "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

        Amen!(1)
        • What are you doing to actively warn people, so their blood is not on your hands? SS blog posting does not count. I would encourage them in 8 things they are doing right, and warn them of 2 thing wrong. Then sit back and let the Holy Spirit do the goading. Maybe the the 1st wrong is lack of interest in God. Let the love of God draw them to Christ. Maybe they need YOU to show them the path to the foot the Cross.
          The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing them to Himself. If they do not resist this drawing, they shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in them to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and they can say with Christ, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” Psalm 40:8. DA 175.5

          Amen!(0)
          • Hi John,

            "What are you doing to actively warn people, so their blood is not on your hands?"

            While that is a question that we should all be asking, we should be asking ourselves, not others. We all have work to do, not militant work, not condemning work... but certainly not silence.

            All too often and much to the dismay of our Lord, we make the claim "God will do what He needs to do to draw sinners to Christ" while we calmly "pass on the other side."

            I like how Roger Hernandez puts it in his book "Everyone Welcome":

            "Every Christian should ask two questions every day: What breaks my heart? What am I going to do about it?"

            If we earnestly ask God to guide us in answering the second question, we will not shirk our heavenly-ordained responsibilities and passively assume "the Holy Spirit will take care of it."

            "Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God."
            --Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 327

            Amen!(0)
          • Perhaps we need to rethink this business of actively warning people. So often our activity in this area centers on telling people that they are wrong. It is possibly better to encourage people to look at a better way.

            Consider this example:

            We actually have a fair bit of credibility among unchurched folk in the area of lifestyle. I have seen the effect that CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) has on unchurched folk. The encouragement to adopt a healthful lifestyle brings tangible benefits to those who adopt the principles taught in the CHIP program. We need to be a living example ourselves.

            OK, so CHIP is not the Gospel, but it opens hearts and minds and provides opportunities, simply because we are working for their good in an area where we have credibility.

            Amen!(0)
        • Hi Sieg,
          You are correct. There are two issues when Government opposes God's laws.
          1) how does it affect my following God's standards.
          2) how does it promote/allow a standard which is different to God's standard.

          1) if it affects me directly, I must standard for the right.
          2) if it is a principle that goes against God's standard, then we need to promote the positive principle of God.

          If we study Jesus's preaching and discussions, He spent most of his time promoting the truth, not arguing against the negative.

          I believe we should spend most of our time promoting the love kindness of the LORD instead of telling people what they shouldn't be doing.

          Amen!(1)
    • Good question. I think it's important to promote God's Law/statutes, but what's also important is the method in which it is done should be with Love.

      Amen!(6)
    • In my opinion in approaching social issues Christians don't use rigorous campaigns against immoral social orders (activism), a soul turned to Christ will shun immorality but no matter how hard you campaign against immorality to Christless souls you yield nothing. Lets lift up Christ, the holy Spirit doing his part to convict people of such sins gays will turn to God. Activism in my opinion is a worldy approach but Jesus gave us his way.

      Amen!(6)
  2. No sinner is outside the grace and mercy of God (John3:16 & 17). We have the tendency, sometimes unconsciously, to make some sins worse than others. But God's grace and mercy are sufficient to bring about all the transformation that is necessary. God gave the church all that is needed through the Gospel to proclaim the message. The Gospel is most effective when that proclamation is demonstrated (Romans5:20 & 1 Peter 4:8). We need wisdom, courage, and strength in these times but most of all love (1 Corinthians 13)

    Amen!(6)
  3. I believe the issue of same sex marriage is a slippery slope. Most who proclaim to be Christians would agree that same sex marriage goes against the will and laws of God. However, God gives us the power of choice. Jesus came, taught us, and left us His example. It is our choice to conform to those laws and and standards or not. I believe that our focus should be our own lives and drawing others to Christ through our upright characters and love. In Christ, we are new creatures and all former lusts and sinful natures are put to death. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can convict us of the right path. That's not something that can be legislated. It's hard to argue that one should not have to right to choose whom one loves without crossing the line of separation of church and state. There are plenty of laws that may go against our beliefs and principals as Christians, however are in place in order to protect the rights of others. We have to remember, that in the end, the great controversy will be about the government mandating how, when and where we exercise our religion. We should not be so quick to rally against others exercising their freedom of choice.

    Amen!(15)
  4. This lesson about submitting is difficult because it goes against our natural inclinations. We naturally want to fight against what is wrong and unjust, but Jesus is our example.
    Christians were being persecuted by the Roman government yet Jesus did not get involved. His mission was to save people for eternity.
    Our purpose is to be prepared and prepare others for the second coming.
    We must trust God to put matters straight in His time, he flooded the earth when man became wicked and saved His righteous, he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and saved His righteous.
    God is in control, He knows what He is doing, we must be ready to meet Him and help other to be ready too.

    Amen!(13)
  5. When Peter got arrested for the Gospel, because he refused to follow man's command. He acknowledged them what belongs to God he will make it in application. And he will not disobey God for man. Peter stood up for Jesus Christ's
    Gospel.

    We need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit for the complete transformation in our souls, minds and body to be change from God. People or our neighbors and our friends can see, we are Gods children.

    Amen!(5)
  6. Jesus through his ministry was a catalyst for radical social change that confronted sin, injustice and exploitation -head on, at the heart level. We are to do the same guided by the Holy Spirit... "We ought to obey God rather than men." If we lived those words we would radically transform our surroundings and interactions with others. Hiding in church is not obedience and looking away from the poor, blind and naked around us is not obedience either. Obedience to authorities requires us to be law abiding but our motivations and actions should challenge the status quo like Jesus- by working at the heart level. First we let him transform us and then everyone we come into contact with. Our mission is not peaceful compliance but transformation and restoration from within. It is what Jesus did, may we do likewise.

    Amen!(5)
  7. Regarding the issue of social justice......is it a big challenge doing that within the confines of the legal framework as the legislation is designed to protect those in power.......

    Amen!(2)
    • It is probably more realistic to say that there are always people who will use legislation to their own advantage.

      Amen!(3)
  8. It is the social relationships in the church that concern me the most since those who follow the Light of the world are to be light, not just to world, but to the fellowship of believers. There is the darkness of physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse of women and children that simmers below a façade of “perfection” in the church, which leaders (from the lowest to highest echelons) and members appear to be afraid to acknowledge and confront, perhaps for fear of adversely impacting image. And when abusive instances do come to public knowledge, there is damage control instead of constructive action.

    To be light, we must act redemptively toward both victims and perpetrators. But this will never happen if we do not come to terms with abuse. In my forty years in the SdA church I have heard many sermons on the tithing, marriage, the Sabbath and the evils of alternate sexuality (LGBT), but I have never heard one on the evil of this abuse. And in retrospect, I find this strange since I know it exists in every church that I have attended.

    This SS lesson on social relationships got me to thinking that the abuse of women and children in the church would be well worth discussing and perhaps studying in some future quarterly.

    Amen!(2)
    • Richard you are correct! I have not heard a sermon in my 16 years that deals with these defective social relationships that require speaking truth to power within the church. We need to be intentional as we seek to restore, teach and preach in and out of season, to both the perpetrators and victims (domestic violence, power rape, incest, pedophilia) starting in Jerusalem...

      Amen!(0)

Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *