One of several uncomplimentary terms that could be used to describe the modern Church is “reactionary.” Routinely, the contemporary Church is found responding to developments in society, rather than taking a role of leading society according to Biblical principles. These days, we spend a lot of our time determining what we are going to say regarding the latest example of debauchery. Although it is reasonable to expect that the Church will, by necessity, have to respond after some issue has manifested itself, this should not be the standard operating procedure for Christ’s people. The Church should not have as a leading characteristic this trait of entering the debate long after it has begun. This is completely contrary to what Scripture has to say about the activity of the Church in this fallen world.
Throughout the Bible, the people of God are pictured as invading the territory of the wicked in order to capture it and reform it according to God’s Word. We see this principle in primitive form as the nation of Israel finally entered the Promised Land. Those nations then occupying the region were immediately treated as enemies and their destruction was the goal throughout the period of Israel’s advancement. God didn’t command His people to compromise or negotiate or attempt to “get along” with those foreign nations.
Much of the explanation for this characteristic of the Church comes from Her belief that we are destined to lose ground in this world until we finally reach the point where Jesus will return and rescue us by taking us out of the world. This defeatist attitude has crippled the Church for decades. It has resulted in our abandonment of one sphere after another. Therefore, we find ourselves well behind the chief topics of controversy and debate in our culture. Rather than lead by example and the declaration of the gospel, the modern Church is almost always in the position of criticizing and condemning there is aspects of contemporary life. From that perspective, the Church offers Biblical instruction, but the context in which the world sees us primarily as critics, makes our voice something to be mocked or ignored.
In Matthew 16, in response to Peter’s confession, Jesus made this statement: 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Gates are used to protect what is within from that which is without. In this passage, therefore, the Lord described His Church as continually advancing against and eventually overcoming the defenses of darkness. When we recapture the viewpoint of the Savior, then the modern Church will become an agent for conversion and reformation, as God designed.