Being salt and light in a Genesis 3 world
Previously published in a CMI newsletter, March 2019
It shouldn’t be surprising to believers that, as the post-Christian society rejects more and more of the historical Christian foundation which was assumed by almost everyone less than a generation ago, the blessings that grew out of that foundation are fading as well. It is easy to be discouraged as we read depressing headlines about corruption, political division, crime, and abuse. But this bleak picture gives Christians a backdrop against which the Gospel stands in stark contrast.
CMI-US CEO, Gary Bates, often uses the ‘Two Trees’ illustration above to illustrate the problem. Often we think of things like societal breakdown, murder, and the redefining of marriage as ‘the problem’. However, they are symptoms of the real problem, just like a fever is a symptom of an infection. Really, the problem is a faulty worldview that says that man decides truth!
On the other hand, the good things we want to see in society, like charity, valuing the sanctity of life, and valuing marriage, are also fruit of a worldview that accepts God’s Word as truth and God as the Creator.
We can’t go back—but would we want to?
Some people wish we could go back to the days when the culture was explicitly Christian, and laws reflected that consensus. But while that was better in a lot of ways, it also tended to blur the distinction between Christians and non-Christians, because your average, law-abiding, moral, patriotic citizen could look like a good Christian. While that may reap some cultural benefits, having ‘Christian’ governments or Christian laws are not enough to save someone.
Today, Christians are being forced to stand up for biblical morality that was taken for granted even in the recent past. This means that we are opened up to criticism and even persecution, but it also clarifies who is a Christian and who is not, and thus, who needs to be saved. This means that Christians who are prepared to present the Gospel in a compelling and winsome way in a hostile culture may have unprecedented Gospel opportunities.
So rather than going back to the days of cultural Christianity, Christians should prepare to go forward into the Christ-less culture and present the Bible’s teaching, and share the Gospel to sinners just like Jesus did—our ultimate example. We can have confidence that the Gospel will win out, because God’s truth will always withstand the false worldviews which oppose it.
The importance and power of a biblical worldview
Various denominations are recognizing the crisis of young people leaving the church. With Christianity under attack like never before in the West, many churches have not done an adequate job of preparing people for a reality where their faith is not the default option. If we are to send people out into the world, then it is imperative to understand how the world thinks, so that we are not taken by surprise by the anti-God arguments that flourish out there.
One of the most powerful ways to stand against the culture is to fully embrace the teaching of Scripture and a biblical worldview, starting with believing in the Bible’s big story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. A consistent defense of the Bible starting from the first verse strengthens the faith of those who otherwise might be vulnerable to atheistic arguments, and it gives us a strong position from which to share the Gospel. At the end of the day, the battle is really about whether there is a God or not, and if He is the Creator as described in Genesis, then clearly He has the right to set the ‘rules’.
Eddie C wrote in recently to tell us about how creation information strengthened his faith (edited for length):
About three years ago I really started to get depressed about the social and political climate and what appears to be an acceleration of decline in Western culture. Looking to make sense of things, I started to watch videos and read articles online. I really started to believe some conspiracy theories that I found online. This didn’t lead me to want to be a witness for Christ, but to retreat from the world and let judgment come. It made me see only darkness in the world.
But about that time I also started reading CMI’s website. I want to say that CMI really provided a ballast for me. I also started to attend a church that really focused on the Bible and I realized that my thinking was actually unbiblical. At the very least, whatever is going on in our world is not a surprise to God, and those opposing God are not operating outside of God’s knowledge. So I’ll just trust God with that. Thank you CMI for being a source of reason, there are few resources that I know I can trust to balance everything against the Word of God and CMI is one of them.
2,000 years ago, with the enabling of the Holy Spirit, twelve men that God chose to take the Gospel across the known world of the day began a spiritual revolution even in the midst of a culture hostile to Christ’s message. They did this not by seeking political office or trying to influence powerful people, but by sharing the Gospel and changing lives one person at a time, in one city at a time. We should not be daunted by the task and depressed or intimidated by the culture, but consider what sort of results might we see if Christians today took that to heart? After all, the Bible says there is rejoicing in Heaven every time someone gets saved (Luke 15:10)!