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Hope For Evangelism In A Secular Age – Part 2

by Akos Balogh

(see last week for part 1)

3) Eschew Utopianism

There can never be a perfect world this side of eternity.

Christians should be people of love and justice. We’re to do good to all people (Gal 6:10), as we love our neighbours as ourselves (Matt 22:39).

But as we do this on a personal level, on a corporate level (as churches and denominations), and as citizens exercising democratic responsibility, we’re not going to transform this world into the kingdom of God. That’s above our pay grade. Only God can usher in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Utopianism is not only unbiblical, it can be downright dangerous (as the various secular utopian regimes of the 20th century testify).

Rather, we’re limited to having an impact on our culture – even if that impact is at times a significant one. 

4) Make Use of Our Democratic Stewardship

In our democracy, Christians share in the authority of government.

As Christians who are citizens in a democracy, we share in the authority of our government. And so, if we neglect this (God-given) democratic authority, we neglect the good of people.

Writing elsewhere about democratic responsibility,  theologian Russell Moore argues: “In [a democratic system of government]…the state is accountable to the people, who are, ultimately, the governing authorities.”

Elsewhere Moore puts it rather poetically: “Shrugging this [political responsibility] off is not the equivalent of Jesus standing silently before Pilate. It’s the equivalent of Pilate washing his hands, so as not to bear accountability for our own decisions and precedents set.’

While no amount of political action alone will soften depraved hearts, we can act to lessen the obstacles to communicating the gospel freely. For example, we can vote for politicians who stand up for religious freedom, rather than erode it. 

5) Trust the Lord, Not Human Circumstances

There’s never been a set of human circumstances that Christians can’t trust God through. Jesus beautifully trusted His Father through the horror of the cross. God will prove trustworthy through everything we might have to endure, no matter how persecution we suffere. As we trust Him, we will bear a beautiful testimony of God’s goodness and power. And that will bring Him glory.

6) Remember Everything We Have Is By God’s Grace

Anything we receive less than hell is ‘dancing time’ for the Christian.

Everything we have is courtesy of God’s grace. We need to keep this perspective, so we don’t become tempted to become bitter toward non-Christian employers, friends, family members, or government when they oppose us. Think of the apostle Paul: how was he able to refrain from bitterness, and rejoice in prison (Acts 16)? Because he knew what he had been forgiven of.

Marxism’s false critique of Christianity is that we preach a pie in the sky, that it’s an opiate making you forget the real trial around you. But Marxism is wrong: our knowledge of our eternal and lasting possession (Heb 10:34) is exactly what allows us to be so weirdly loving and generous now to others, because we are secure in the eternal inheritance we have.

We don’t have to think like our poor Marxist friends, who think that this life is all there is. This eternal perspective is the reason for our being weirdly loving, and ready to share the good news whatever the opposition.

7) Rest In The Certainty of Christ’s Victory

The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ.

Each nation and age attacks God and His people in various ways, but none will succeed any more than the crucifixion succeeded in defeating Jesus. Jesus died, but three days later he was raised from the dead. Christ’s kingdom is in no danger of falling, neither here in Australia, nor overseas in places where the persecution is more severe. We need to know this deep in our bones. ‘D-day’ has happened (with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) – now it’s ‘clean-up time’, as we proclaim Christ’s victory.

Not one person that God has elected to save will be lost because of the secular agenda that seems to be winning in our time and place. Thus there shouldn’t be anxiety or desperation in us – urgency, yes. But not fear.

8) Understand the Difference Between ‘Macro’ Culture, and ‘Micro’ Culture

Not everybody thinks like a secular academic.

As we look out on the cultural landscape, we can assume that all non-Christians think like inner city secular elite: that they’re suspicious, even hostile, toward Christianity.

But there seems to be a sizeable difference between what Joe and Sally two doors down think about Christianity, compared to how secular academics from the gender studies department’s think about Christianity. Needless to say, there’s often a sharp distinction. Indeed, for many irreligious ordinary people Christianity has become a novelty – something that arouses curiosity rather than suspicion. Even among students on university campuses.

And so it’s useful to keep this in mind as we look to sharing the gospel with friends, coworkers, and family.

It’s Darkest Before The Dawn

We know Christ will return and set everything right. And so we want to share that good news with as many as possible. Now is not the time to panic or retreat. Instead, now is the time to keep proclaiming the gospel to a dying culture, knowing that there is no other name under heaven by which we might be saved.