While the Romans severely oppressed the Jews, it has often been noted that there was never any mention in the Bible of Christ expending any effort to change the Roman government. Rather, Christ saved his scathing remarks for the religious leaders of the day. The conclusion often reached is that if the Church is to follow the example of Christ, it should not waste resources on trying to change our culture or civil government but instead should only be keenly involved in ecclesiastical matters. Let’s discuss this for a minute.
In Christ’s day there were two overlapping political and social structures, that of the Roman authorities and that of the Jewish religious leaders. Individual Jews related to these two very differently. Since the Jews hated the Romans, the Romans had no power over the Jews. Certainly they could command outward obedience, but the Romans were powerless to change their hearts. Any evil practiced by the Romans could not spread to the Jews. On the other hand, the scribes and Pharisees were the Jew’s spiritual leaders who were perceived as friends; working for the Jews. Any sin engaged in by these spiritual leaders would be copied by the Jews and spread like a plague. There is a major difference between people who sin and those who teach others to sin. While the Romans had the ability to command their soldiers and cast the Jews into prison, the Scribes and Pharisees had the ability to pervert the Jews’ religion and, in so doing, cast them into Hell. It is fairly obvious which should be a greater concern.
I believe that if Christ were physically alive today he would be doing much the same as he did back in Galilee. He would be healing the sick, preaching good news, and fighting tooth and nail with the religious leaders of our day.
But who are our present day religious leaders? We have the mistaken impression that a religious leader is someone who has been to seminary and preaches from a pulpit; anyone who doesn’t fit this description is assumed not to be a religious leader. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A religious leader is someone who teaches people about whether their is a god, and if so, what his nature is. If there is a god, is he satisfied with our behavior, and if not, what should we do about it? What is the nature of man? What is morally right and wrong?
If you ask the average man in the street to name his spiritual leaders, he will probably tell you that he doesn’t have any and he doesn’t believe in that sort of stuff. But that’s not true, somewhere a spiritual leader has taught him that God does not exist, is irrelevant, or is reasonably satisfied with his behavior. Yes, there are strong spiritual leaders in our community but they are rarely identified as such. Who has a stronger influence on the spiritual values than the our public educational system, the Media and our political system? Who else is the strongest teacher that life is to be lived apart from God than our public educational system? Who teaches us that sexual promiscuity and perversion is a normal and acceptable facet of life than the media? And who codifies society’s hostility to God and Biblical values other than our political system?
When, for example, the Seattle City Council passes a gay rights law, are they not providing moral instruction to the city and teaching the city a perverted view of what is right and wrong? Satan’s objective in such laws is to convince people to believe that legal protection makes sinful behavior morally acceptable. By doing this He is better able to entice people into sin which will harden them to the Gospel and ultimately drag them off to Hell. We teach our kids the Bible with the hope that it will keep them from sin. As our culture teaches people to sin, this tends to keep them from the Bible and our God.
Although Christ would be denounced from the pulpit by many ordained false preachers of our day, their wrath would be minor since they have comparatively small sway in our community. It is the true ministers of our culture that Christ would have the greatest conflict with.
Christ’s different interaction with the Roman and Jewish leaders of his day gives a clue to how effective a culture or political system opposed to the Gospel will be at blocking its spread. When there is opposition or slander about Christianity, how does the group targeted for evangelism perceive those opposing Christianity? Do they perceive Christianity’s opponents as their enemy seeking to keep them from something good as the oppressive Roman government did? Or are those opposing us perceived as the potential converts’ friend seeking to protect them from a danger, as the Jewish religious leaders were generally perceived as working for the good of the Jews? If opposition to Christianity comes from a culture that a potential convert sees as a friend, that opposition will be very effective indeed.
Looking at our own culture, as people observe opposition to Christianity form the media, our educational system, etc., do they perceive those institutions as friends seeking to entertain, educate, or in some other way benefit them? Or does the public view these institutions as a vicious enemy which is intent on dragging them off to Hell? Draw your own conclusions about how effective opposition to Christianity is that is generated by our hostile culture.