Although we could multiply such negative descriptors of our world, we must first acknowledge that there is much good in this universe that God has made, and we are invited (and commanded) to enjoy His physical blessings with thanksgiving (I Tim. 6). However, we find ourselves in a progressively unchristian or post-christian or even anti-Christian environment. The Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015, legitimating same-sex marriages, also forbids all states from banning such unions. But isn’t homosexual behavior an “abomination” to the Lord?
The 1973 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision, one which has cost the lives of an estimated fifty-five million children made in the image of God, continues to rock the Christian world — and we have been unable to do anything to have that ruling overturned. As the third most populous country in the world with 321 million people, the United States, one might argue, has systematically executed almost 1/6 of its citizens.
What are the believer’s options in living for Jesus in such an un-Christian world? There appear to be only four possible choices that a Christian can make:
CONFORMITY: The believer in Jesus can choose to not rock the boat, to become exactly like the world around him, holding the same ethical values as his culture, and live a relatively conflict-free life in comfort. The world will then see no discernible differences between believers and unbelievers, but will also have no reason to persecute those who claim to be Jesus-followers. They will be seen as people who have nothing better to do on Sundays than attend half-empty churches, sing ancient songs to each other, and occasionally enjoy a pot-luck meal together. The Christian can choose to conform.
ESCAPE: This is the believer who doesn’t rock the boat, but sails it into the sunset, leaving this broken world in its wake. This Christian “dwells in heavenly places with Jesus,” although his body has pretty much remained behind on planet earth. He or she essentially exits this world, bails out of his or her earthly citizenship, clumps himself with other heavenly-minded holy ones, and, for all practical purposes, lets the rest of the world go to hell in a hand basket. Among the more committed of this viewpoint are those who have already purchased their ascension robes, stopped making their mortgage payments, ripped their children out of their schools, and are waiting on some high hill for the rapture (the snatching up of the saints when Jesus returns).
DOMINION: This believer weaponizes his boat (literally or figuratively) and begins a new chapter of the Crusades. The last thing this believer wants to do is turn over the world to unbelievers! This Jesus-follower intends to take over earth for Christ, perhaps not militarily, but certainly governmentally and morally. He wishes to bring back the laws of Deuteronomy (stoning rebellious teenagers is one of the more attractive ones) and impose them on his culture. He longs to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and is defended philosophically by such groups as theonomists and dominion theologians.
INFLUENCE: This Jesus-follower uses his boat to rescue those who are drowning (and who want to be rescued). None of the previous options have biblical warrant. With respect to option #1, we are not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the Word of God (Rom. 12:1-2). Jesus Himself cleared ruled out an escapist mentality when He prayed in John 17:
11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. . . . 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (Jn. 17)