I proposed last week that Christianity profits society on two broad levels: first, at the governmental level; and second, at the societal level. We discussed the first of these points, that a Biblical lifestyle, when adhered to among the population, promotes good government. This week we examine the influence of biblical Christianity at the local and national societal levels.
The Bible and Christianity promote a healthy society in at least four ways:
The Bible emphasizes an organized society wherein each of us are responsible to government officials (Romans 13:1-7), our workplace bosses or clients, our position within the family structure (Colossians 3:1-4:2) and the leaders of our church (Hebrews 13:7). All of us are ultimately responsible to God for our behavior.
Order is an important Biblical design for our lives. Historically, the Gospel was brought forth in the Roman Empire. The Romans, while ruthless and despotic, maintained order internally which promoted peace and community works such as roads and a postal service. These advantages helped with the dissemination of Christianity.
Order still is needed in today’s society to allow for courtesies, helps and the spread of the Gospel. Such attributes exist only with difficulty in anarchy when citizens are trying to simply survive and fend off injustices and violence.
The Bible tells us to do good to all men both within the church and society generally (Galatians 6:10). Such good works might include helping the poor, community cultural improvements, job creation and scientific discoveries.
The Bible teaches that we are to be responsible for our immediate family and ourselves, so we and our families do not burden society and so provide a good example of the church to our communities. We also are to work hard for our employers or clients for the glory of God (II Thessalonians 3:14, Colossians 3:17).
Respect for the individual
Christianity is most unusual among religions and political philosophies in emphasizing the importance of the individual. This stress allows us personal freedom to live by faith (Romans 14:24). Further, it teaches us to have careful regard for one another in how we speak and act, emphasizing a love (Greek: agape) that keeps the needs of the other person in view, bearing one another’s burdens, having compassion and kindness towards one another (Galatians 6:2, Romans 12:9-16).
So how do these four factors help our local communities? If each of us is responsible for ourselves and our families, working hard for employers and clients, helping individuals and institutions in our community, all in a loving manner, we can build a gracious and supportive atmosphere where each of us can succeed. Further, as individuals find success and give back to their community we will create jobs, innovative new products and medical breakthroughs. For those who struggle within the church and community, in an attitude of respectful helpfulness, we can assist these people so they also may succeed.
In contrast, when individuals are dependent on the government they may develop an expectation of largesse built upon other people’s work. Such government dependence, not based in work, does not promote a gracious giving community, and help improve the individual’s progression to financial independence or personal responsibility, or bring forth institutions or discoveries that help benefit society.
Each of us should be committed to teaching those younger than ourselves these truths, not only to teach the Gospel but to pass on what God’s word explains about creating a healthy, orderly, prosperous and caring society.
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