What role are Christians to play in society? This question has been asked for centuries. Groups have united and divided over this topic. Christians and non-Christians alike voice their opinions on this. There is no single answer about the specifics, but the Bible does answer this question by giving us a mission to complete. Jesus shared these instructions with His closest followers before He departed for Heaven:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a, NASB)
The same instructions apply to His followers today. Go. Make disciples. Baptize them. Teach them. Fulfilling Christ’s mission is where we find far more life.
First, Jesus told us to go. He wants us to be part of society. He wants us to develop relationships so others can see Him in us. We can offer His compassion and grace. We can speak His truth in love. We can feed and clothe and meet other practical needs.
Where should we go? To people. We should go to neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. We can also go to those who are hurting or ignored by others. Some of us are called by God to go far away. But most are called to go to people in our own neighborhood or community.
You yourself are a guide to people who are blind, a light to those in darkness. (Romans 2:19, NASB)
Jesus said we are the light of the world. We must go into society for others to see our light. My son experienced this at his middle school. His lab partner, PJ, was not well-liked. He was socially awkward and lacked interpersonal skills. The other students either ignored or teased PJ; he did not have friends. My son was kind and patient with PJ, even when he was difficult. One day PJ asked my son, “Why are you different?” He had only seen darkness in other students, but he saw light in my son. If my son had not been his lab partner, PJ would have continued to see only darkness. If we do not go into society, people will only see darkness.
Next Jesus told us to make disciples. When we go into society, our mission is to share Jesus. Knowing God’s love and forgiveness is everyone’s most important need. And God has equipped and instructed us to meet that need!
Often we start sharing through our actions, by showing love and kindness. This includes listening, giving of ourselves, and offering help. Those God is drawing will want to learn more about the differences they see in us. Just like PJ wanted to learn more about the difference in my son.
Imitate me, brothers and sisters, and look around to those already following the example we have set. (Philippians 3:17, VOICE)
Once others have seen the difference, we can share the good news of Jesus. We can tell them about His love and His offer of forgiveness and far more life. We do not need to do this alone; we can join with other Christians to make disciples. My son was involved in a Christian ministry that met after school and PJ started attending it, too. There he met more Christians, heard about Jesus, and eventually became His disciple! Disciples experience far more life.
Then Jesus said to baptize new disciples. This is an important step in following Jesus. Baptism does not change our standing with God, but it does have spiritual impact:
For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27, NASB)
The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 tells us some who hear the message will not want to become disciples. Others will appear to become disciples, but will not continue in Christ. But some will become genuine disciples who are committed to Jesus. Baptism is one way we communicate our decision to start a new life of growth and obedience to God. For disciples in countries with religious freedom, baptism may seem unimportant. But our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world face punishment or death for expressing their faith so boldly. Baptism is an important component of far more life.
Finally, Jesus said to teach new disciples to obey His commands. Notice he is talking to every Christian, not only pastors and ministry leaders! Each of us can teach what we have learned about Jesus.
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2, NASB)
We do not teach young children complicated math. We first teach them to count. Then they learn to add. They learn more and more until they can solve difficult problems. The same is true spiritually. Just as a child can teach a younger one to count, a new believer can tell people about God’s forgiveness. They can teach others each spiritual lesson they learn. God wants us to share what we learn with other disciples. We experience far more life as we learn and grow together in Christ!
What is the role of a Christian in society? Go. Make disciples. Baptize them. Teach them. Shine the light of far more life as you fulfill your God-given mission.
How does your mission in life impact your interaction with society?
Which instruction is easiest for you: go, make disciples, baptize them, or teach them? Which is most difficult?
How have you been positively influenced by Christians you know?
How have you been a light to others?
Thank God for giving you a mission — and far more life!
Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso