By Tyler Warner
At a time like this, when we face the threats brought on by a pandemic that we realize what the Gospel is all about. Christianity is not primarily an engine of social change and values legislation. If that were the case, how foolish do we look right now? No public policy could have prevented this, and no social program is able to fix it. If that was what the Church is for, then we might as well hang it up, or go work for a political party.
The Church is not about creating social change, it is about effecting personal change. This is not just splitting hairs, it is the most important distinction that the Church must make today. The Gospel exists to change individual people by bringing the forgiveness of sins that only Christ can bring. It’s not about lobbying for rights or transforming social systems – it’s about repentance and forgiveness and grace and love.
On every other day of the year, the Church is mocked for this. People are even angered by it. We are accused of stirring up people’s guilt and getting them focused on a “pie in the sky”. Even pastors will stand up to advocate for new laws and new theories instead of the truth of the Bible. How many times have you been told that the Gospel is irrelevant and can’t help anybody?
Look around you today! What good is political theory now? What good the advocacy groups and social programs? People are still stuck in their homes, afraid of a deadly plague and dreading the inevitable financial disaster. If that’s the best the Gospel can give us, then what a sorry God we serve.
But that’s not what the Gospel is, and that’s not what the Church is for. People transformed by the Gospel no longer live for the material goods of the world, they are already dead to them, so physical loss is a matter of course. Christians have been shown compassion by the God of Heaven, so they become the most sympathetic neighbors and help one another out of kindness instead of compulsion. And because the Gospel tells us that all our sins are nailed to the cross, we do not even fear the grave. Because our eternity is settled, we are filled with joy instead of fear – our attitude is not determined by circumstances, but by the truth of the risen Jesus. People like that don’t need the government to change the world.
When everything is fine and we don’t feel the crunch, we are susceptible to foolish ideas about Jesus as a social engineer. But we don’t worship policies or programs. We are a family of transformed hearts. Because we serve the Living God we cannot be bought, and we cannot be broken – not even by the coronavirus.
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30am, at 5239 Old Springville Rd. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 8:30am on 101.1 FM.