How Do Christian Teachings Affect Communities?
THE preceding articles considered why genuine Christians do not participate in politics. How, though, can Christians show that they are interested in improving the communities in which they live? One way is by following Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”
There is a link between following Jesus’ command to “make disciples” and carrying out his instruction to be like salt and light to the world. (Matthew 5:13, 14) What is the connection? And what effect can that work have on people?
Salt is a preservative; it can prevent decay. Similarly, the message that Jesus instructed his followers to carry to people in all nations has a preserving influence. Those who accept and apply Jesus’ teachings protect themselves from the moral decay so prevalent today. In what way? They learn how to avoid practices that are harmful to health, such as smoking, and they develop such qualities as love, peace, long-suffering, kindness, and goodness. (Galatians 5:22, 23) Those qualities make them an asset to society. Christians who share this preserving message with their neighbors make a valuable contribution to their community.
What about the metaphor of light? Just as the moon reflects the light from the sun, so Christ’s followers reflect the “light” from Jehovah God. They serve as reflectors by means of the enlightening message they preach and the good works they do.
Jesus further highlighted the similarity between being a light and being a disciple by saying: “People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before men.” A shining lamp placed upon a lampstand is clearly visible to all those around it. Similarly, the preaching activities and other fine works that true Christians perform should be clearly visible to those living around them. Why? Jesus said that those who see the fine works will give glory, not to the Christians, but to God.
A Collective Responsibility
When Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” and “let your light shine,” he was addressing all his disciples. Jesus’ commission cannot be accomplished by a few individuals scattered in different religions. Instead, all believers are “the light.” Seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses, who live in more than 235 lands, believe that it is their collective responsibility to visit their neighbors to share the message that Christ wants his followers to proclaim.
What is the theme of the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses? When Jesus gave his preaching commission, he did not instruct his followers to preach social or political reforms, union of Church and State, or any other secular ideology. Instead, he foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) Thus, in obedience to Jesus’ instructions, true Christians today continue to speak to their neighbors about God’s Kingdom
In fact, when reading the Gospel accounts, two main things stand out about Jesus’ ministry that have a bearing on the activities of true Christians today. Both are considered in the next article.
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How is the Christian message like salt?
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How is Christ’s message like a lamp in a dark place?