Called Out

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I recently asked people to tell me what they thought is the most fundamental principle that describes the relationship between Jesus’ church and the world. Some said the church is to be salt and light, though they had different ideas about what that meant, while others said that it is love.

This issue has concerned Christians ever since the church’s first days. For centuries early Christians needed to know how to face heavy persecution from their neighbors. Perhaps they breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Roman government officially gave its blessing to Christianity in the 4th century. However that fateful decision resulted in institutional forms of Christianity welding themselves to the power structure of European government so they became inseparable for well over fifteen hundred years.

Over the centuries some Christians have thought that conscientious believers should live in relative physical isolation. In recent times, others have taken the opposite approach, determining that Christians should engage society with the premise that the Gospel is what the world needs to cure its ills as implied in the book title Why Leaders Need the Gospel to Change the World. Many in the church are absorbing social justice concepts as part of the Gospel in the belief that love describes the primary relationship of the church and the world.

Paul’s word about this in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is very timely. The rising persecution of Christians both outside and now inside the United States should make us keen to hear them. So let’s turn to God’s word.

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