[notice]A monthly column that reflects on living in the Kingdom of God.[/notice]
You can picture the scene. Crowds are flocking to hear John the Baptist preach about repentance in expectation for the Messiah’s coming. Luke’s gospel identifies two specific groups that came to repent of their sins and be baptised: tax collectors and soldiers. Previously, John made some general statements about repentance, but when these two groups of people come forward, he addresses how their repentance ought to change a crucial aspect of their life: their work.
The account reads as follows: Luke 3:12-14 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely– be content with your pay.”
Here’s my point. That which was obvious then has now been completely overlooked. In the process, we have minimised our view of God from all encompassing to part-time, and we have immobilised the vast majority of the church, Monday to Saturday.
As churches, we have a lot to say (and rightly so) about marriage, family and personal holiness. But why is it that we have little, if anything, to say about how the gospel should affect the way we work, the way we vote and the way we can influence every area of society. For John the Baptist speaking to tax collectors and soldiers, this came right after their baptism. Why? I believe it was because there was no duality in his view of God to the point where he separated baptism (and the other things we regard as ‘spiritual’) from life in the workplace and culture as a whole.
It is this duality that is so prevalent in contemporary western Christianity today. What else can explain that despite the vast numbers of professing Christians in our nation, it bears no resemblance to the influence we have on society? Statistics also show that the number of registered voters who vote for political parties that stand against moral crises including abortion are in decline, and have been declining for the last three elections.
We (rightly) spend significant amounts of time and money teaching new converts about personal holiness, marriage and family, evangelism and more. But when was the last time you heard someone teach about how to worship God in the workplace and in every area of society? When was the last time you went to a conference with such a theme? When was the last time you bought a book with this theme from a Christian or other bookstore? For John the Baptist, allowing the gospel to impact the workplaces of his day was the obvious next step after baptism. For us, it would almost be revolutionary.