Vol.XVI No.IX Pg.1
November 1979

Our This-World Mission

Robert F. Turner

This article is an unashamed adaptation of one by Ed Harrell, from the October '79 VANGUARD; and you should read the original for full benefit.

Shall Christians strive to control the world, or withdraw from it? Jesus prayed, "...not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (Jn. 17:14-18). The Christian is not of this world, but we have a work to do here — the redemption of honest and good souls, by leading them to Christ. Other than concern for those who will be saved, the N. T. shows an almost total disregard for the society of its day.

Jesus never envisioned that society would become just — in fact, he clearly stated that most people would reject the path of righteousness. Our escape from evil will come only with our escape from this wicked world. We therefore have an "other-worldly" religion, which must not be replaced by "this-worldly" ethics or goals. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20); and physical sufferings or death are of little consequence when compared with eternal matters. A change of emphasis from the spiritual to the work of social reform marks a people whose spiritual purpose has been blunted.

This does not mean Christians are socially calloused. Christians live lives of compassion, and have a right to any civil exercise that the government grants which does not violate principles of Christian conduct. They are obligated to make the society in which they live as peaceful and hospitable as possible. But keep it in perspective! The extension of the church's role to that of a generous benevolent society and service institution to provide recreational and social fellowship, is both unscriptural and a clear perversion of the other-worldly emphasis one finds in the New Testament.

If Christianity calls us to the solution of the world's social problems one must push beyond the poor and orphaned to every social evil. It is a mission which inevitably leads us away from the work the New Testament specifically calls us to do — preaching the gospel to a lost world.