Church in Society

By Not Known

The term ‘local church’ suggests that we, as a community of Christians, are set in a particular locale. In many ways, the church is a microcosm of the society, mirroring the cultures and issues faced by the wider community within which it exists. To effectively influence the wider society for God requires that we are first transformed from within. The church is therefore the rightful place where Christian discipleship and disciple-making begin.

What does discipleship means? Discipleship is a dynamic relationship with the object of one’s devotion. In Christian discipleship, we are either both conforming to Christ and transforming society God-ward (Rom 8:29), or else we are conforming to the society and transforming the church world-ward (contra Rom 12:2). For these reasons, the Apostle Paul strenuously warns that the danger of backsliding and apostasy from Christ is real and happening within the Ephesian community (1 Tim 1:19; 4:1; 5:15, 20; 6:20-21).

How then does the church exist in the society without becoming of the society? A few responses are possible: for them, fight them, or form them. The Bible does warn Christians against an undiscerning affiliation with the ways and wisdom of the society (Rom 12:2a; Jas 3:13-18). We must submit to God and resist the devil (Jas 4:7).

However, that does not require that we dismiss everything our society offers as of the devil (e.g. non-Christian based community services). The church and her wider community are equally fallen, and equally bear a fragmented image of God in some ways. The only big difference is that the church is a Christ-redeemed and regenerated community, still being sanctified, and awaits her final glorification. That’s the difference that Christians are called to magnify where God has placed us.

The church is in the society but is not of the society. Our fallen-ness connects us with the wider community; however, our redemption commissions us to transform it, beginning first from within ourselves. Let’s order our acts with God’s truths, so that the world may see our godliness and praise God in heaven!

Benson Goh