13th June 2023

  Michael Jakes, Pastor, asks

What Is the Christian's Place in Society?

Have you ever wondered what the apostle Paul would be doing,
if he were on earth today?

In light of these turbulent and tumultuous times that we are enduring,
do you think that he would be involved in politics, by aligning himself
with any one party?
Or do you think that he would be fighting for the rights of the
poor and needy?
Or maybe he would be marching and peacefully protesting against
social injustice in the many places where it is found?

To be sure, these are all noble undertakings that have their place,
but would they be part of his present-day agenda?
I do believe that it is quite possible that he would show up at these
events, but his message would be clear.
This is what he said to the Christians at Corinth:

1  When I came to you, my friends, to preach God's secret truth, (a)
   I did not use big words and great learning.
2  For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except
   Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross.

(a) God's secret truth; some manuscripts have the testimony about God.

.....1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Apart from Jesus Himself, I believe that the apostle
Paul is the greatest example of what a Christian should be.

From Paul, we learn how to live for the Lord, and through many examples,
he shows us our place in society. The Scripture above tells us first and
foremost what his heartbeat was, and what it was that motivated him
to action.

For Paul, everything was all about making the message of the cross
known to everyone.
This was because to Paul, Jesus was his life (Colossians 3:4).

Paul lived his life for Jesus during trying times.
He lived through several persecutions, and through the reigns of the
evil Emperor Caligula, and also that of Claudius.

He was stoned and left for dead, imprisoned several times,
and beaten several more times.
This is only a small sampling of the things he endured,
yet through it all, he stood firm.

From the near thirty-year span of Paul's Christian life,
and the 14 epistles he wrote (counting Hebrews),
he shows us just what our place in society is.

1  First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests,
   and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people;
2  for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a
   quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God
   and with proper conduct.
3  This is good and it pleases God our Saviour,
4  who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.

.....1 Timothy 2:1-4

Here, we see very clearly that there is no stipulation
as to who to pray for.
We are not to pray only for those who please us, or for those we like
exclusively. It simply says that we are to pray for all people.

The command even extends to those who are in government,
whether it be on a national or local level.

This may be difficult for some, but it is the proper Christian stance.

Anything that Scripture says is good and acceptable,
is 'what you want to be doing.'
The fact that government has been 'instituted by God' gives us another
reason why His people should pray for those in authority.

1  "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no
   authority except that which God has established.
   The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling
   against what God has instituted, and those who do so
   will bring judgment on themselves"

.....Romans 13:1-2

The crowning reason that we should pray for all men is so that they may
come to the knowledge of the Lord.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
 as some understand slowness.
 Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
 but everyone to come to repentance"

.....2 Peter 3:9

Paul restates, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
a word Jesus spoke in the book of Matthew:

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
 your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven"

.....Matthew 5:16

Paul tells us that shining as lights means to hold
firmly on to the gospel. This means that as we proclaim it, we are not
to allow it slip away from us, and we are to keep its message pure
by not diluting it with anything else;
it is Jesus plus nothing.

We understand that none of this is done easily,
but as we live daily, empowered by His Spirit,
and emboldened by a desire to please Him and
fulfill our calling in this life, we cannot only find
our place in society, but live it also.

Michael Jakes is an Associate Pastor, Bible teacher, and writer.
He is co-founder of That's The Word! Ministries, a distinctly Cross-centred outreach.
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