In these times, many Christians are conflicted about what public stance to maintain over hot-button social issues like sexual identity, abortion, divorce, and euthanasia. While many believe that the world is getting it wrong on these very important issues, the real concern of appearing judgemental of other people’s choices, and the desire to please or be accepted tends to keep us quiet.
The situation is however not so binary. Although the bible is explicit about paying greater attention to the log in our eyes than the speck in the eyes of our neighbours, it is also the express command of Jesus that we go into all the world, and seek to actively shape culture.
Matthew 28:19-20 GNT
Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus commands that we go everywhere and make people his disciples by teaching them the things that he taught. Now Jesus taught sufficiently (see here for some teachings) as for us to be able to draw principles for just about any question society confronts today.
It is however useful to note that the sequence of discipling does not always start with condemnation. The command to “work out” our salvation indicates that our spiritual six-packs will be gotten in the daily exercise of our faith and not in the instance of our conversion.
Knowing this we are to be wary of leaning in with broad condemnation. We are nevertheless to make clear that God’s standards do not “evolve” like a politician’s view on issues.
There are of course many of us believers whose views are not yet firmly aligned with God’s on these issues because of inadequate understanding. There are those however who “knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused”. Romans 1:21 NLT
There are also those whose candles God lit with his knowledge but who have chosen to hide the light under a basket.
Matthew 5:13-16 GNT
“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it. “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
When Jesus describes us as salt, he means we must act as a sterilising agent in a world threatened by the decay brought on by sin. When he describes us as light, he demands that we resist the consuming darkness that is threatening our society. We are a city set up on a hill (visible from all around) he says, why do we make such a huge effort, trying to hide our convictions.
I find in the book of Jude a very instructive portion that provides the nuance and wisdom that every beleiever needs to live out a good and effective testimony in these times.
Jude 1:17-23 AMP
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions which were made by the apostles (the special messengers) of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). They told you beforehand, In the last days (in the end time) there will be scoffers [who seek to gratify their own unholy desires], following after their own ungodly passions. It is these who are [agitators] setting up distinctions and causing divisions–merely sensual [creatures, carnal, worldly-minded people], devoid of the [Holy] Spirit and destitute of any higher spiritual life. But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)–[which will bring you] unto life eternal. And refute [so as to] convict some who dispute with you, and on some have mercy who waver and doubt. [Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality. [Zech. 3:2-4.]
Show mercy, borne of love to those whose faith wavers. Others rescue by more drastic means. In all be cautious that you do not also fall into condemnation.
The believer must take a public stand with his feet planted firmly on love and grace.