Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Before the holidays we considered “peace on earth” and we saw that sin is always the fly in the ointment of man’s quest for world peace. Yet, as Christians, we are to be God’s instruments of peace, and the core of our endeavors must be the loving witness of the gospel coupled with acts of love. Finally, we saw that the world will sometimes react positively to our light, and at others (and most often as time continues) the world will react negatively.
Now, lest we be tempted to retreat from engaging the world, we must remember that light falls on everything in its path. Every arena of life is to receive truth from us in the love and Spirit of Christ. Too often, Christians think that addressing controversial issues will obscure the gospel and drive people away. We must remember that all truth ultimately leads to Christ, who is the Truth. It is interesting to read the testimonies of saints throughout history and see how virtually every portion of the Bible has been used by the Spirit to bring people to faith. So, in considering the promotion of conditions required for peace (in terms of temporal blessings for mankind), we must bring biblical truth to bear socially and in terms of civil government.
Getting back to the root problem, whatever approach we take to socio-economic-political issues, we must take into consideration the problem of sin. Evil does not spontaneously generate from bad environment, poverty, poor education, or even oppressive government, as important as these issues may be. Jesus said evil proceeds from the hearts of men, not from external stressors. External stressors simply may reveal what’s already inside the heart. It doesn’t take much thought to come up with someone who has had a great education, wealth, and/or fame who has been miserable and wicked.
Now, true Christians will do right (most of the time) regardless of external circumstances or the law; but the “natural man” needs both external restraints and personal incentives. A government that balances these with the least personal interference is the best possible option to be hoped for in this present time. By defining civil “morality” in terms of personal liberty, and punishing those who violate another’s liberty, both incentive and restraint are combined in the law. If I have a right to life, then anyone who violates that right must be justly punished under the law; if a thief violates one’s right to private property, the thief must be punished.
Here’s where the Christian should come to realize and communicate that the best definition of the personal liberties afforded to all people are the liberties inherent in the Ten Commandments: (1) freedom of religion and speech; (2) the right to life for all; (3) the sanctity and autonomy of the individual family unit; (4) the right to hold and protect personal property; (5) the right to truth in law and civil discourse. Government must be limited in it’s power to the promotion and protection of these personal liberties, and nothing more. Neither individuals nor the majority (and certainly not the government) has the right to violate any individual’s personal liberties.
Finally, we must always be aware that when the spirit of lawlessness has overtaken a society, the blessings of liberty will ALWAYS be destroyed, and no government on earth will be able to restrain the people. At that point only God may grant a reprieve in response to the prayers of His people and their witness.
About Ed Ross
Ed Ross has been pastor of Springwood Chapel in York, PA for the past 16 years. He and his wife, Lynna, have been married 34 years, and have three grown children (a son and two daughters) who are all actively involved in the church and/or missions work.
Having attended Millersville University (PA: 1969-1972), Maranatha Baptist Bible College (WI: 1977-1980 ), he received a bachelor of theology from International Bible Institute & Seminary (FLA). He was first ordained into the ministry in 1980, at which time he and his wife began an Independent Baptist church, remaining there for eight years.
Ed has been bi-vocational at times, working in supervisory and management positions in the quality and manufacturing engineering fields.
He is actively involved in missions work, having spent significant time teaching among the amaZioni peoples of southern Africa. Ed has written numerous tracts and pamphlets, and currently publishes Tuesday’s Touch, a weekly e-devotional. He has also served as a city police chaplain for a number of years, and enjoys writing music/poetry, hiking, and traveling with his wife.