The task which Jesus has bestowed upon Christians is not easy. However, it is simple enough to fit in a single sentence: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1 ESV). As Christians, we have the spiritual duty to tend to the needs and struggles of the non-Christians around us. Despite our differences in many aspects, we are called to love them with the love of Christ.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He read aloud the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. From it, he recited this passage specifically: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:18-19; cf. Isa. 58:6 ESV). By saying these words, Jesus called to the forefront of the Hebrew minds Isaiah’s prophetic promise of national deliverance and restoration. Jesus declared that He had fulfilled that prophecy through His very Christology, and that through Him, the world would certainly change.
Jesus effected the highest form of social change in the world. T.S. Eliot captures the nature of the change Jesus ushered into the world through his eloquent poem, Journey of the Magi. Based from the story, the symbolic depiction of the global change achieved through the Christian mission is reminisced by one of the Magi, who witnessed Christ’s birth. In the final stanza, the Magi asks, “Birth or Death? … [I] had thought they were different; this birth was hard and bitter agony for us.” In Christ’s birth, the abolition of the old Roman religion was consummated; eventually, Christianity took a dominant role in the world. Jesus took away old traditions and customs of the pre-Christian world. He ushered into the social landscape both a new understanding of how others should be treated and an obligation to tend to the needs of the poor.
If we are bent on emulating Christ, we must also emulate His impact on the world. We must confront social inadequacy and deplorable customs if we are to fulfill the Great Commission and carry out the movement which Jesus began. Of course, it is the will of God for His Church to transform the social landscape and form it into His image.
Social landscapes adjust to the individuals residing in them. Therefore, if a culture should be changed, an initial change must occur among those comprising the society. We are unable to claim a desire for one thing, yet we practice another contrarily. As Christians, we must be a consistent and pursue holiness, goodness, and justice. If we desire these things and evangelize our local communities, our social landscapes will definitely adjust accordingly. However, if we fail to live our lives based on what, we will not be able to provide any authentic or meaningful influence into the culture where we belong.
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