Everyone agrees that you are messed up and need to change, but this is where the agreement ends. Is the problem the disparity between rich and poor? Do we need freer markets or more regulation? Do we need higher taxes and greater government expenditures or lower taxes and a smaller government? Are racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices the source of your ills? Or, is the problem moral laxity and cultural decadence? Is the greatest problem faced by humanity climate change? War? Corporate greed? Police brutality? Systemic racism? White privilege? Capitalism? Marxism? Socialism?
I have a message for you. But it’s not from me. I received it, and I simply pass it on to you. It’s the message Jesus Christ proclaimed and that his apostles continued to teach. It’s the only message that the Christian church has been given authority to proclaim to you. Apart from this message, I have no advice to give: You are indeed messed up, and need to change. But the diagnoses and solutions listed above do not get at your most fundamental problem. The root problem is not economic, social, or political. No solution to the real problem will be found from these quarters. Your problem is theological. You have forgotten that the most important issue is how you stand with God, “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25). Compared to this question everything else fades into insignificance. And as long as you think that the most important challenges you face are economic, social, and political, you demonstrate that you are not right with God. Indeed you show that whereas the Thessalonians “turned to God from idols” (1 Thess 1:9) you have turned from God to serve idols. For you look to worldly powers and goods rather than to God for your well-being and salvation.
I have a message for you. It’s not a message about how to gain wealth or political power or freedom to do as you please. It’s not a formula for world peace or social justice or psychological health or long life. These things matter only as long as you are alive. And today or tomorrow, sooner or later, you will die. Your nation will die. Your planet will die. Then what? In the end, how you stand with God is all that matters. And if this will be true in the end, it is true now. Your most urgent task is to seek God and make sure you align your life with his will and character.
I have a message for you. It did not originate with me. I received it and embraced it. Now my task is to pass it on to you unchanged: Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:5). If you want to see God and learn how to get right with him, you must look to Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1-4). If you want to hear the voice of God, “listen to him” (Mark 9:7). The “rulers of this age” crucified him (1 Cor 2:6), but God raised Jesus from the dead. In the resurrection, God declared Jesus to be lord and Messiah (Rom 1:4; Acts 2:36). You own him your allegiance, and you will give it sooner or later (Phil 2:10-11). Jesus Christ is the only Savior (Acts 4:12). Trust him and you will set yourself on the path to salvation and eternal life. Reject him and you will continue on the path to destruction of both body and soul. Whatever honor, glory, wealth, and power you gain in this life, unless you gain God’s approval, death, obliquity, obscurity, and nothingness await you.
I have a message for you. I have no authority to command you, but I am under authority to warn you. Stop cursing, hating, worrying, fighting, fretting, shouting, and despairing about the state of the world. Do not blame the stars, fate, chance, your ancestors, or the system. Stop talking about the sins of others, and look in the mirror. You are wholly responsible for that person, and you will answer for their sins and theirs alone. So, the message I have for you is the same as Paul and the other apostles had for the world of their day: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).
Next Time: an open letter the the church.