“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19, 20.
This is Christ’s charge to the church. This is our mission statement. Notice the three specific commands: 1) Preach the message to all the world. 2) Those who accept are to be baptized. 3) The new converts are to be taught to live a Christ-like life. These instructions are designed to spiritually transform the lives of people. This is the only way that hearts and minds can be changed.
Where is Christ command to go to Caesar and present a list of social reforms so that laws could get passed in which sinners would either reform or be punished? When did Jesus say, “Preach to them, baptize them and then register them to vote?” This is why from the very beginning the church has spent its time winning souls for Christ. This is why Seventh-day Adventists instituted publishing houses and not political campaigns. They started evangelistic campaigns and not voter registration drives.
In Luke 20:19-26, we have the story of the Pharisees coming to Jesus for the purpose of entangling Him into a politically-charged debate. They asked Him, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not” Luke 20:22.
Ponder this situation. Here was Rome, the cruelest, most unjust and most discriminatory government of ancient times. The tax system was most dishonest, the social programs were a disgrace and reforms, to say the least, were not forthcoming. The Pharisees assumed that Jesus would lash out at the Roman government. Surely, He would take some political stand here. Surely, He would recommend legislation to undo the evil. Surely, He would seek to reform the system. But He did not. Is Jesus our example? If so, then why don’t we follow Him?
“The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,—extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Savior attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart” (Desire of Ages, p. 509).
Jesus asked for a penny and upon receiving it, He asked whose image was on it. They answered, “Caesar’s.”
“Then said he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21.
Jesus wisely sidestepped any involvement in a political argument. He was not here to reform or tear down the Roman Empire when he declared:
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Luke 19:10.
Jesus and Discrimination
On another occasion, John 4:6-13, Jesus met with an immoral woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus was tired after His long journey into Samaria. A woman of Samaria came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. She replied:
“How is it that though, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” John 4:9.
This woman was saying to Jesus that there was unfair discrimination, segregation, racism and conflicts between the Jews and the Samaritans. It was just like the situation existing today. This is exactly what many are saying in America.
So how did Jesus respond to this politically-charged question? Did He send Peter, His most vocal disciple, to Jerusalem and lobby on behalf of this poor Samaritan woman? No, not at all. Jesus totally ignored her attempt to involve Him into a discussion about politics. Instead, He immediately began to tell her that her true need was spiritual water. He told her all about her sinful life and of her great need of salvation. To the glory of God, not only was she converted, but through her faithfulness she began to share her experience. As a result, her hometown turned to God. Amazing!
Jesus could have spent the whole day telling her how terrible the Jews were and what plan of action could be implemented to resist them. But He did not. He told her that her greatest need was a change in heart. When she became converted, she forgot all about the political problems and social differences. She immediately began to work for God. She even brought other Samaritans to this supposedly discriminate Jew (Jesus). What a wonderful lesson for us today and especially for Seventh-day Adventists to follow. This is Christ’s method.
Jesus and the Dishonest IRS Agent
Zacchaeus was a dishonest tax collector. Today, we would consider him to be one of these discriminate federal bureaucrats who abuse their position. Zacchaeus was very desirous to meet Jesus. If Jesus had been like these modern political activists, He would have led a demonstration against Zacchaeus and demanded that he give back all the money which he had wrongfully taken from the poor people. Instead, Jesus looked lovingly at Zacchaeus and desired to go to his house (not burn it down) and eat with him.
This display of love helped to win Zacchaeus to Christ. After his conversion, Zacchaeus offered to give back fourfold of everything he had taken unfairly. This came about naturally as his heart was changed. This is another example for the church to follow. Our duty is to work for the conversion of the hearts of people instead of outward external conversions. When hearts are changed, society will change. Christ’s method is completely opposite to the worldly method.
Christ’s Only Earthly Political Confrontation
To be clear, Christ did in fact have public confrontations. The only public demonstration made by Jesus was against the desecration of His temple. He confronted the politicians that had invaded His house. When thieves, money changes, political opportunists, corrupt priests and cattle brokers invaded the House of God, Jesus quickly and publicly cleared them out. Seventh-day Adventist leaders should be placing a lot more effort and emphasis in cleaning up their own churches, hospitals and schools instead of trying to clean up state and federal governments.
It is remarkable that when it comes to addressing the ills of society, we want to turn into fearless social justice warriors. But when it comes to addressing the Omega of Apostasy in the church, we instantly turn into jellyfish and became incapable of standing on our own feet. Why is that? Why are we willing to take action and oppose the injustices of the world but not the errors in the church? The Omega is ravaging our churches. A cloud of spiritual degradation is hovering over our people. And all we can think about is cleaning up the secular government while our churches lay waste.
When church leaders protest the discrimination in society and say nothing about the Omega in the church, this shows how the social justice movement in Adventism isn’t sincere. Yes, God detests discrimination, but He detests the lowering of moral standards in the church even more. He detests the heretical, worldly, liberal philosophies sweeping our institutions. But no one wants to address these issues. There seems to be a bit of hypocrisy in the so-called social justice movement today.
The Standard Set by Christ
“Jesus did not seek the admiration or applause of the world. He commanded no army, He ruled no earthly kingdom. He passed by the wealthy and honored of the world. He did not associate with the leaders of the nation. He dwelt among the lowly of the earth. To all appearances He was merely a humble man, with few friends. Thus He sought to correct the world’s false standard of judging the value of men” (The Southern Work, p. 10).
Is that plain enough? Should we suppose that Jesus was wrong? Or that maybe His policy has now changed? Love cannot be legislated. Love is found in a person, and that person is Christ. A conversion and change of heart cannot be legislated through Caesar’s law. The church cannot transmit God’s love through civil legislation. Even basic education, medicine, social reform or any other external need cannot win a single soul for Christ. If money, social programs and education could raise the moral standards of a nation, then the United States would be the holiest nation on earth! Our nation would be the most pure and sacred. Why? Because we have money, social programs, education and plenty of laws already.
The Only Solution
It is only when the church takes the light of the gospel to the sinner, and when it shines into the sinner’s heart, that lives and attitudes can be transformed. Our people need to get out of Washington, D.C. and stay away from government bureaucrats. We need to sever our connections with these left-wing, political organizations that are pushing a godless propaganda. Our churches need to get back to our original mission. We need to be found in the highways and byways bringing souls to Christ. The preaching of the gospel is the only way of turning people back to God. And the gospel of Christ is not the social gospel or the ecumenical gospel or the rainbow gospel or the evangelical gospel (new theology) but the everlasting gospel of Revelation 14:6-12. When Christ comes in, sin and rebellion goes out:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.