The central hope of Christianity is that Jesus is making all things new.
Jesus’ perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection are the grounds by which every individual believer is declared righteous before God. The Holy Spirit then remakes us; we progressively grow in holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:1), putting off what is earthly within us and putting on Christlikeness (Colossians 3:1-17). What many Christians miss, however, is that God does not merely save us for “Heaven one day.” The fruit of our salvation is not to be limited to weekly church attendance, a Bible study every morning, and a generally moral life.
Though all of these are essential, God calls us to much more. Because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ, we are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God and teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). In short, we are to win this world to Christ.
Like Dagon before the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 5:4), great evils have collapsed as the gospel has turned the world upside down. Indeed, Jesus is making all things new—by saving sinners who not only follow Him faithfully, but also expose the fruitless works of darkness with the light of His truth (Ephesians 5:11).
This trend is evident throughout church history.
In the ancient Roman world, children were functional “nonpersons.” Many were simply abandoned and exposed to the elements if unwanted by their parents—which led to a thriving sex trafficking industry. In particular, boys were castrated as infants and turned into sex toys for wealthy men. Christians, however—rejoicing in their status as adopted sons and daughters of God—rescued babies from death and welcomed them into their own families. It can even be said that Christians “invented” children as a class of people who deserve a special degree of kindness and gentleness—a reality that both Christians and non-Christians now take for granted in the modern world.
In seventh-century Germany, pagans continued to worship Norse deities like Thor and Odin. The religion was often associated with mass sacrifice of humans and animals. However, a missionary named Boniface destroyed the “oak of Thor” in the town of Geismar—so much for cultural sensitivity—and thereby convinced the Germans that Christ was mightier than their idols. Boniface was martyred at the age of eighty for his boldness.
In nineteenth-century America, abolitionists were scorned for demanding the immediate end of slavery. In addition to citizens of the pro-slavery South, Christian abolitionists—such as Harriet Tubman and William Lloyd Garrison—were loathed by gradualists in the anti-slavery North. However, President Lincoln only emancipated all slaves in the United States due to their decades of labor. As Garrison said, “my fanaticism is to make Christianity the enemy of all that is sinful.”
Christians have always brought the gospel into conflict with their cultures’ favorite idolatries, sins, and atrocities—deeply altering the course of human history toward the flourishing of God’s image-bearers and the catalyzed spread of the gospel.
However, this trend is reversing itself in the United States.
Jesus told His disciples that they are the salt of the earth—and discussed the consequences of unfaithfulness in that calling: “If salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13). Jesus said to the church in Laodicea—which thought itself rich and was yet wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked—that “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16).
In the ancient world, salt was a preservative; the presence of salt in food lengthened its shelf life and prevented decay. Likewise, the presence of a healthy church in a society prevents its downward spiral into sin and death.
The United States is experiencing such decay. Because the philosophies of Rousseau, Darwin, and Marx have not been rebuked by the church, a host of false, sinful, and destructive ideologies frame the typical American’s worldview. The central government is the god of the new American religion—feeding the poor, healing the sick, offering protection against threats seen and unseen, and promising eternal prosperity. And as a core ritual of this new religion, the Western world has tragically seen the return of institutionalized child sacrifice via abortion—by which Americans have murdered sixty-three million of their own sons and daughters.
Why? Because American believers—as previously mentioned—are limited in their religion to Sunday morning worship and huddling together for Bible study. They fail to bring the gospel to bear against the evils of their age. They retreat into the four walls of the church and enjoy materialistic pleasures while their society regresses into ancient paganism. In stark contrast, pure and undefiled religion before the Father is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
As God warns the religious people of Judah who allowed injustice to continue in their land: “New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:13-14). In this case, what does repentance look like? “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16-17).
The gospel is advancing around the world. Redemptive history will continue with or without us. The Word of God is going forward and not coming back void. The question is only whether the American church will join her Lord in making Christianity the enemy of all that is sinful—or be thrown out and trampled by the neighbors whom we failed to love.