Monday, November 13, 2006

To join, or not to join?

Given my political and religious views, as well as my work interests, I get all kinds of opportunities to join all kinds of organizations--and of course pay $20 annually for the privilege (or more), and of course to allow them to use me as a springboard for various actions more or less on my behalf.

Apart from my church, however, you won't find too many actual memberships. And why? Well, at one level, I'm not a joiner. At another, my resources are finite. And at a final level, well; there just aren't that many organizations with which I agree.

For example, I was almost ready to join a well known conservative/libertarian organization when I noticed something; the founder claimed that it didn't matter what specific theology one held as long as one was pledged to oppose Godlessness and a conspiracy.

At first glance, that sounds great--let's prevent a holocaust that would make Hitler and Stalin proud, right? But think about it; the Scriptures (Daniel and Revelation) seem to indicate that someone's conspiracy will eventually succeed. Our hope for avoiding it lies not in political action, but the Gospel. To fight this conspiracy actually means to consign more people to its atrocities because it means you're taking resources you could use to preach Christ and diverting them to stop the Bilderbergers.

Be careful what you join.


Joe said...


First, let me acknowledge that the postion I'm about to argue against isn't precisely your position, rather it a position that I was reminded of by your post. Nevertheless I think you might be dangerously close to it.

There is an adage, "He's too heavenly minded to be any worldly good." The position I have in mind is the one that says that evangelism is the only worthwhile activity. Here are two arguments from Scripture to support the idea that it is the Christian's duty to be involved in ministry to temporal needs also.

The first is from the book of James, 2:14-17: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." In this passage, the deeds that validate the reality of one's faith are explicitly about temporal needs. James did not say that telling the starving person the Gospel would indicate saving faith. While I certainly would not say that evangelism is absent from saving faith, I am saying that ignoring physical needs is also not absent from the faith that has saved someone.

The second argument speaks more directly towards what you wrote. I don't think the Gospel will do any more to stop "someone's conspiracy [from] eventually succeed[ing]" than social activism will. The Bible tells us two things that make me think this. First of all, it says that this world is going to pass away, and that there will be a new one (Rev 21:1). God is telling us that this world won't be saved. It groans for its resurrection into a new form just as we groan for our new bodies. Now I'm not saying that the Gospel can't make a wonderful difference in the world at large, I'm saying God has told us it won't. This is the second thing: Scripture says that a remant will be saved, that few find the narrow gate, etc. Sure, if most of the world became Christians, it would make a huge difference, but God has told us that won't happen either. So we are left with this fact: most of the people in the world are not going to be saved, hence "the world" will always be the thing we are warned against conforming to: something opposed to God. Yet the fact remains that "the rain [blessing, it's an agricultural metaphor] falls on the righteous and on the unrighteous," and so if the Church is going to be God's instrument for blessing the world, this is going to include ministry to the temporal needs of people who will never turn to Jesus.

When you look at it from the perspective of the needy person, if you meet my needs but it's clear you did it only as a pretext for getting an opportunity to proselytize me, I'm not going to think very much of you nor of the Gospel. Who would be interested in a message that turns people into such selfish jerks, who would use my hardship for their own purposes? And yet the proselytizer has convinced himself that he is actually being loving because he is focused on the person's "eternal needs"--but their dignity gets trampled in the process, and that isn't loving at all. Service with strings (I'll give you food but you gotta listen to the Gospel) is no service at all. Someone who is incapable of "giving a cup of water to these little ones" without layering some evangelistic device onto it is, in my opinion, a lot farther from the heart of God than one who ministers to needs regardless of the apparent "eternal significance" of their service.

When you imply in your last sentence, Bert, that any resources diverted from evangelism is a bad thing, I feel I need to warn you that it is easy to take this too far. Like we said earlier about the amount of time we spend on our vocations, you need to find balance here, too. I would encourage you to consider whether you are too quick to dismiss opportunities for service that God brings into your life because they don't have an obvious evangelism context.

- Joe

Bike Bubba said...

With a response like that, you need to get better room than this little page! (how's your planning coming?)

I would agree that one can mistakenly hold back from joining an organization. I don't believe it's the case here, though; keep in mind that theology was described as of little importance in that founding document, while theology bears a central role in the very problem that organization seeks to address. A look at their book, then that of Daniel, points out that to join is to spin one's wheels.

Mark said...

Would that book be blue? :^)

Bike Bubba said...

That's what I'm referring to, Mark, though I was trying not to name names.

Anonymous said...

Now that the "people" have voted the liberals in, unfortunately, the "people" do not know what they just did and that is long term bad news for the economy which will hurt the avg American workers (noticed I didn't say workers cuz that would include illegals), I'm gonna start NOM, the National Org for Men.

Please send me $20/month, that's less than $1 per day, to help support men and fend off male discrimnation by the liberal left. The evangelistic msg is that men are created in God's image, there! :o)

Joe said...

No way, Bert, I'm not going to start a blog anytime soon. It would suck too much time. I'm content to post periodically on other people's blogs, that takes enough time itself.

I wasn't talking too much about your particular decision to join an organization or not (and I don't catch the inference on what organization it is), but it did make me think about the more general problem of Christians fixating on proselytizing to the expense of all else. IMO people like that can't be credited with evangelism.

Bike Bubba said...

Mercy, I'm already contributing my entire paycheck to an organization dedicated to the support of men--my wife & kids. :^)

Mark said...

So... What are your thoughts about membership in the Republican, or any other, party?

Bike Bubba said...

Be careful. Did not George Washington warn of the party spirit?