The Testimony of Christians in Society (1)
Recently, the writer had the opportunity to seek understanding from the Bible regarding the responsibilities and testimony of Christians in society, together with members of the Elijah Fellowship. I recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan told by Jesus. You can first peruse carefully the setting for this parable in Luke 10:25-37 before reading this article. The content of the parable is quite straight-forward, but it has ample spiritual significance. The following are some of my own perceptions.
Although Christians have the assurance of eternal life, we cannot overlook things happening around us while we dwell on this earth. An expert in the law asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. Eternal life relates to matters in the future that are spiritual and forever valuable to an individual. The asking of this question by the expert in the law indicated that he sought to comprehend and attain the ultimate blessing of life. Jesus directed his focus back to the Word of God. ¡§What is written in the law? How do you read it?¡¨ (Luke 10:26) Only by the revelation of God can we come to know Him and understand that eternal life is a blessing bestowed by the Lord. Jesus also shifted that person¡¦s focus from eternal life to actualizing the love for God and for man in this life.
Life is like a journey ¡V some travel from Jerusalem to Jericho, some from Jericho to Jerusalem. From a spiritual perspective, the life of a Christian is a life of progression from Jericho (symbolizing the world) to Jerusalem (symbolizing where Everlasting God resides). Going from Jericho to Jerusalem should be the right direction and goal of all Christians. After we become believers, God wants us to be consecrated from the world, and start on our Heavenly journey. Our destination is the New Jerusalem in Heaven. According to the prophesy of the Bible, the world is under the control of Satan and in the hands of sinners. It will only become more and more corrupted. Therefore, Christians in the world do not aspire to establish a perfect Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It is not, as promoted by the Watchtower and people in the Kingdom of Heavenly Peace in Chinese history, for men to strive to install God¡¦s Kingdom together here on earth.
Christians in the world should consider themselves aliens, and living as sojourners. ¡§Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world¡K¡¨ (1 Peter 2:11) Nonetheless, we should not neglect our responsibilities and testimony on earth, for we still have obligations to our families, societies and countries while living here. To society and country, we have the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To our neighbours and communities, we also have righteousness to be fulfilled, and concern and love to be poured out. Just like the Good Samaritan in the parable, although he had his own work and objectives, he extended his hand of friendship when he saw the need and helplessness of others, and did all he could to assist one who supposedly stood in enmity to his own people. In contrast, the priest and the Levite did not stop to offer any assistance despite seeing their kinsman hurt and suffering, perhaps employing the excuse that they were focused on serving God, and suppressed the urging of their conscience. Christ used the act of love of the Samaritan to call us into self-examination - how often do we have an immediate and proactive response of love to the tribulations being suffered by others?
Christians have a heavenly goal and hope. If we only claim to love God, but neglect those in suffering all around us, then we have not brought to fruition the gospel of love in our earthly lives. Just as John exhorted, ¡§¡§For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.¡¨ (1 John 4:20-21) Dear brothers and sisters, the query is not ¡§who is my neighbour?¡¨, but ¡§am I a good neighbour?¡¨.
By: Daniel To
Peace Evangelical Church of Richmond Vancouver
July 23, 2006