THE SOCIETAL HEDGE OF THE CHURCH - P7
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Christ’s unmatched sacrifice of His life (in living and in death) is the example that practically transformed the western world and reformed it through the work of the Gospel in people’s lives—causing men and women to care equally about each other, their children, parents, neighbors, communities, rulers, and even enemies, as they did about themselves.
A wellspring of freedom and goodness proceeded from the resulting sacrifice of self-interest, ambition, lust, and greed. The call to live for each other as much as for ourselves brought us the freest culture in human history—one that was self-governed.
This self-governance was not of voting booths or elections—it was the self-governance of the heart by the working of the Holy Spirit, producing a bounty of spiritual fruit and practical nourishment to our communities. It meant few societal restraints were required as trust and goodwill was minted as our societal currency. For just as from the “heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matt. 15:19-20a), so too, by the Spirit are “hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Heb 10:22b), producing “the work of the Law written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15a), because “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:10), “for the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Rom 13:8). “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
Thus, we trusted our neighbors to look out for us, as we looked out for them and treated them exactly how we wanted to be treated, even if it was inconvenient or painful. This is the practical legacy of the gospel in the West.
Unfortunately, in our modern culture, the practical legacy of Christianity is being eroded. People are accepting the teachings that they need to “love themselves” and to “live in the moment” without thought to harmful consequences. The gospel of today teaches our children that the impulses and desires they have “can’t be wrong if you are born to want it” ; “self-sacrifice is wasting your life” ; “live your life for yourself” ; “live your dream” ; “live the life you love” ; “you start living the moment you live life for yourself and not for others” ; “Don’t make your life someone else’s wants and needs” ; “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness” ; “The most important thing is to enjoy your life” ; “Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want” ; “Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.”
The words above are all popular teachings of “self-improvement,” which resonate with Lucifer’s hymn to himself—seeking his selfish dreams and passions at the expense of everyone and everything, for he said in his heart, “I WILL ascend to heaven; I WILL raise my throne above the stars of God, And I WILL sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I WILL ascend above the heights of the clouds; I WILL make myself like the Most High” (Is. 14:13b-14 emphasis added).
And we wonder why people are increasingly doing terrible things to others, sacrificing others for their own happiness, and why our society is ripping apart at the seams? Harm is increasing in our culture as the love of many grows cold and lawlessness increases.
May we testify to the light of Christ that saves men from the eternal penalty of living a self-willed, self-centered life of harm. May we share the good news of the Gospel that results in practical self-sacrifice and self-control for the peace and good of our societies. And may we never cease searching the Scriptures daily and seeking God’s wisdom in His purposes on earth, which are for the good of all. Amen.