When the Scriptures speak of the church as an assembly, one should remember that the church is not a human project, but a God’s project that He has given it to us so that every Christian can participate in communion with Him. This makes morality be of high significance in the church. In this short post, I will offer three reasons of why the church must firmly engage in morality.
Church Is Called to be a Community of Saints. Even though the visible church is not made of morally perfect persons, the church is called to be a community of saints of all believers redeemed by Christ, which has the mission to promote the Kingdom of God on earth. And because the church is a community, it is important to heed to the way believers live out their faith. God desires to restore the blessing and His original intentions for humankind. As God’s heralds, Christians have been called by God to remain faithful not only to Him, but also to their community of faith. When one worships God, one is also celebrating God’s work in one’s life and the world. When the church proclaims the Good News and it promotes God’s justice over the world’s injustice by fighting against physical and spiritual oppression, for example, the church is offering an acceptable sacrifice to God as the Body of Christ.
Church’s Duty to Restrain Sin. The church is also called to restrain the effects of sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “Like living stones, [we] are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:4-12, NIV) Thus, when the church is faithful to the moral principles in the Scriptures, she is obeying God’s Word. For Calvin, laying up for relieving the necessities of others, for instance, results from the fruit of the Spirit and submission to God (Calvin 1979, 313). Hence, the promotion of Christian morality should not be a charge for Christians, but similar to worship, it is an opportunity to respond to God in thankfulness and follow Him in what He is doing in the world “fighting against evil, sin, and injustice, and declaring the Good News to the world. Author Jim Martin has stated, “Because he loves us, God invites us into his work in the world…To accept this invitation is to discover that the work of justice is significantly about our own discipleship.” (Martin 2012, 10)
Church’s Responsibility Support God’s Mission. God has also called the church to fear Him and live out what she preaches. If the church calls Christians into action, it should live it out. The church is called to have the mind of Christ, and it is believers’ duty to proclaim faithfully the Word of God not in their terms, but in terms of the socio-ethical vision of the Gospel found in the Scriptures. In doing so, the church will not define people in terms of their socio-cultural condition, but in terms of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ. In short, the church is called to proclaim a true and faithful gospel that promotes God’s mission for the world. Besides, every Christian has the call to reflect the mind of Christ. The chapter thirteen of Corinthians is a good example that shows possessing gifts of the Spirit is purposeless if believers do not have love for God and His mission on earth. So that living out the true faith means that believers indeed share God’s mission of the Kingdom to break any oppression and declare the favor and grace of God. Sharing God’s mission is only possible when the church follows Christ truly and is obedient to the Spirit who dwells within us while He guides us to our true identity in Christ.
For these reasons, I believe that Christian morality cannot be separated at all from the good and faithful proclamation of the Gospel.
Notes & References
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979.
Martin, Jim. The Just Church: Becoming a Risk-taking, Justice-seeking, Disciple-making Congregation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2012.