Last year at George Mason University Pastor Jason Garwood and I were on the campus in the main square to speak on behalf of the unborn with the Gospel as the foundation of our calls for justice.
In conversation with one bright young man, we began to talk about how authentic biblical Christianity is one that doesn’t just want to escape the world and leave it to burn, but how the Kingdom of God is the only hope this world has. That the original plan was for humans to go forth and fill the earth and take dominion and cultivate it and be good stewards of the earth. Before we could go further to talk about the scourge of sin and the redeemer in Christ, this man began to interject that we had common ground as a way of shutting the conversation down and making himself feel justified.
He tried to make it clear that we were really on the same team because we both care about making the world a “better place” (we both care about the environment etc.) and whether we do that through Christianity or any other religion or worldview that’s all that matters.
What this man needed to understand (and what we subsequently told him) is that the world without Christ is cursed. Every attempt apart from him will end in futility and destruction, however altruistic sounding the aims are. The witness of history bears this out. It is impossible to create any long term, lasting blessing on society while rejecting the creator and sustainer of the universe who gave his life to redeem it from the curse of sin. It is a real curse!
What God says in Romans 1 about godless humanity is true. Despite outward appearances, inwardly we are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. We are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though we know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, we not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
At times in history, God has to even intervene to wipe out mankind, or entire nations because of their inter-generationally ingrained treachery. Despite all of her wealth, America is in danger of this today. Self-styled do-gooders (or those who think they are) have existed in every evil civilization in human history. Convinced of their inherent goodness and pursuing a standard of justice tied inextricably to what seems right in their own eyes (that month) while completely untethered from any objective morality they flail about after some kind of justice in society. America today is full of such people. The ultimate end of all their efforts without Christ is ruin. The history of mankind apart from fidelity to God’s law bears this out. It is a record of genocide, devastation, subjugation, enslavement, destroyed family and the slaughter of children.
What God does for mankind in the Gospel is to convict people of sin, grant repentance, provide atonement in Christ, free us from guilt and shame, and pour out his Spirit so we are liberated from the curse to obey his law. In so doing, we become part of the project Christ undertook to restore mankind to become faithful stewards of the earth. To secure his inheritance which is the obedience and worship of the nations through the great commission – where Christ is the hero of the story and he gets all the glory.
It is only after a society has been taken over by regenerated hearts that we will see any real lasting change in society. The difficult truth is that ultimately, the godless do-gooder who rejects Christ is on the team which is working to destroy himself, his family, his neighborhood, his state, his country and the entire the earth whether he knows it or not.
This young man at George Mason who thought himself so virtuous while going along with the abortion holocaust was a testament to the truth of Romans 2.
“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their CONFLICTING thoughts accuse or even excuse them”
Imagine the folly of believing it is people of your ilk who will be the progenitors of a just society while standing on the bodies of millions of dead babies.
That said, we have to admit that even strangers to the covenant sometimes do what is right. To our shame, sometimes they even get things right that professing Christians get wrong. By the standard the world lays down, they are “good people”.
What we need to understand is that there are many people who reject Christ as Lord who do lots of “good” things. They perform successful surgeries. They land the plane with care. They fix your plumbing. They give up their place in line. They hold the door. They co-operate. They tip the waitress well. They give to charity. They go out of their way to help you find a job. They’ll show you hospitality. They’ll plant a tree. But what matters in the final analysis is whether they are doing all these things in the service of God or an idol. Who’s kingdom do they represent? Christ’s or Satan’s?
If they do not have the Spirit of God living within them to guide them into all righteousness the nations they inhibit will never become more than failed attempts at human flourishing and social justice. A conglomerate of unhinged people wildly vacillating between great evils and occasional bits of temporary success and justice.
All attempts at reaching heaven from earth without Christ and the regenerating Spirit of God are nothing more than doomed Tower of Babel projects.
Let’s call it what it is.