What role should a Christian serve in society? To start off answering this question in our study today, I want to reference a couple of scriptures that I mentioned in recent sermons. In my sermon – God has the Final Say – I referenced 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. In another sermon – The Oppressive Brother – I referenced Mark 16:15-16. I want to answer the question about the role of a Christian and we are going to start there with those scriptures. Of course, in these studies, we do quite a bit of cross referencing to other passages of scripture, so certainly be prepared to cross reference and dig through scripture in this study.
Quick note for before you start this study: Studies are written out to be longer than my sermons and the Sunday School lesson commentaries. I skip a week with posting bible studies because not everybody can complete a study in one sitting. Take your time and do not rush through my studies! Take it one day at a time if you need to do so. I will recommend a stopping point below for taking a break. Enjoy this lesson and share it with others!
Ministers of the Truth
Many Christians will say that the role of a Christian is to minister the truth to others. I would certainly not argue with you if that is what you told me. When you look at the scripture I referenced above from Mark’s gospel, then you will read part of Jesus’ commission to those that choose to follow Him. Scripture certainly makes it clear that the followers of Christ are supposed to minister the truth.
Commissioned to minister the truth
The Great Commission, something I have preached and taught about before, can be found in Matthew’s gospel – Matt. 28:18-20. There you will read the charge to go and “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Let us also note that Jesus commissioned His followers to also teach others to “observe all things” that He commanded.
Now, when we turn over to Mark 16:15-16, you will see a condensed version of this commission. In Mark, you will see Jesus say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” So, this is essentially the same thing that is recorded in Matthew’s gospel, right? (Quick note: Mark’s recording of the gospel is actually the first recording of the gospel of Christ even though it appears second in the New Testament. Matthew appears first because of the mention of the genealogy of Jesus and His birth. In Mark’s gospel Jesus appears already as an adult beginning His ministry at 30 years old.)
What is the truth?
So clearly, if you express that your role in society is to speak the truth then you’re definitely not wrong. Yet, we must first take a look at the truth that we are supposed to minister so that we can fully understand this truth. If we can fully understand this truth, then we can become better ministers of that truth.
Jesus is Lord
So, what exactly is the truth? Let’s first take a look at scripture from John 14:1-6. In this scripture, you will see that Jesus tells the twelve to believe in Him as they believe in God (the Father) (v.1). (Let us remember that Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity of God.) Jesus also tells the twelve that He’s going to go prepare a place in His Father’s house and one day retrieve those that believe in Him and take them to that place (v.2-3).
I point this out because this is part of the truth revealed through Jesus’ teachings. Thomas would then ask Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” To this question, Jesus responded, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (vss. 5-6).” So, to put it simply, Jesus says to us that He Is the truth.
This statement is similar to the statement that God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush when He said – “I AM THAT (WHO) I AM” (Ex. 3:14). Another scripture I want to reference is a familiar one in John’s gospel – John 1:1, 14. In those verses, we will see that the Word was present in the beginning and was with God, and was God. Not only that, but you will read that the Word (God) was made flesh and dwelt among the people – that manifestation is Christ Jesus. Jesus proclaimed that He and His Father (our Father) are one (John 10:30).
So one clear truth in our faith is this: Jesus is the Lord and the Lord was Jesus. Jesus being the truth also means that the gospel of Jesus Christ is also the truth as well. The gospel of Christ being: His life (the way He lived – what He taught), His death, and His resurrection. This the truth that His disciples (that includes all believers) are to baptize all people in.
What Jesus commanded we observe
However, to go beyond that, we must pay close attention to Jesus saying to us to “teach (show) others to observe all things that He commanded”. So, what did Jesus command of those that follow Him?
After leaving Egypt, the children of Israel were given instructions from God that they were supposed to obey. We all recognize these instructions as the Ten Commandments and Mosaic Law. There are two principles that can be gathered from the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17).
The first principle of the Mosaic Law for the children of Israel was geared towards faithfully loving the Lord (vss. 2-11). The second principle of the Mosaic Law for the children of Israel was geared towards treating their neighbor (everybody) with love (vss. 12-17). Now, these laws and commandments were meant specifically for the children of Israel (Ex.19:3-7).
There are two principles that Jesus gave to those that would believe and follow Him. First, Jesus taught that we should love the Lord with all our heart and spirit (Matt. 22:37). Secondly, Jesus taught that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Jesus taught a principle of loving others (Matt. 5:43-48). (Be sure you read all the types of people He included we should love.) This principle of love included forgiveness because had shown such mercy towards mankind (Luke 17:3-4).
Stopping point: you have made it through the first part of this study. Take a break if needed and return back to this point to continue. This is the bookmark point of this study. If you do not feel like pausing, let’s dive deeper into this study!
Our role goes deeper
So, what have we learned so far? We have learned: Jesus, the Lord, is the truth. This means that the way that Jesus taught and commanded we obey and observe is the truth as well. This means that in our ministering, the way in which you and I live and act towards others, is equally important! To not observe His way would make us a hypocrite to the gospel of Christ. So, our role as Christians is not simply limited to speaking the truth but also to live the truth as well!
Stewards of the Mysteries of God
So, we are tasked by Jesus to be ministers of the truth but let us fully understand what that means because this means more than just speaking the truth. Paul, in the scripture that I referenced at the start of this study (from 1 Corinthians 4:1-2), wrote that we should be considered as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Many believers seem to go all in on the servants on Christ part but often forget the stewards of the mysteries of God part.
Yes, we are supposed to speak the truth in our society but if that is your only answer to the role of a Christian, I would tell you that your answer is shortsighted. I want you to understand that the role of a Christian is also that as a steward (or representative) of God. So, what exactly does this mean? Let’s study.
Representative of the truth
I believe it is important that every believer understand that our role in society is that of a representative of God. We must remember that when God created mankind, He created mankind in His image (Gen. 1:27). I believe that for a short period of time, mankind had the glory of God about it but that glory (that glow) was polluted (dimmed) when man first sinned in the garden. Yet, Christ was given to the world to save those that believe in Him from the corruption of sin.
Paul wrote a very beautiful scripture that I want to share with you in this study – (2 Cor. 3:18). That scripture says: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” This means that through our genuine faith, we are constantly taking back on that image of God that was once polluted in the garden. In our society, we as believers should reflect God – just as Christ did – all around us in everything we say and do — both these things are equal.
How we go about things
So, how we go about things in society is very critical to being reflections of the Lord. I want to share more scripture with you from Paul in how Paul said he went about being a servant of the Lord from 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
If your Bible is like mine, you may see a subheading to this section titled – Serving All Men. I would tell you that this subheading is very fitting for the words that Paul shared in this scripture. Paul’s goal was to get the stewards in Corinth to imitate the way in which he served others (1 Cor. 4:16). His imitation, by the way, was that of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
Servants to all
The first thing Paul says in this scripture is that though he was free of all men (free from sin through Christ), he “made [himself] a servant to all, that [he] might win the more (1 Cor. 9:19).” The role of a Christian should be that of service to all people – ministering (living the gospel). Jesus taught that the greatest among men should serve those around them (Matt. 23:11). Let us remember that Jesus is the one who set this example in which we as Christians should follow (Luke 22:26-27).
The thing I feel I teach and preach most is that we as believers should look to serve in a role of helping others. To the Romans, Paul wrote, “let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another (Rom. 14:19).” This word “edify” is one I have preached about in several sermons many years ago and one I want to really focus on here. The definition for edify: to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge; uplift also: enlighten, inform.
I feel that the role of a Christian is made quite clear in New Testament writing. Our service to others should be one that helps encourage peace and lift up others. The role of a Christian should not ever be one that tears down a person, but one that uplifts. Paul expresses this thought further, when he says, “to the Jews I became a Jew (1 Cor. 9:20).” He then said, “to those who are without the law (the Gentiles), as without the law (1 Cor. 9:21).” Paul then said, “to the weak I became as the weak (1 Cor. 9:22).” So, what was he doing? Why was he doing this? What does all of this mean? Let’s turn to Galatians 2:11-21 to keep studying.
Paul, by birth, was a Jew that was a citizen of Rome (Acts. 22:27-28). He was a man that journeyed and ministered the gospel to both the Jews and Gentiles. In his ministering, Paul learned how to not judge and look down on people because of where they lived, or how much money they had in their pockets, or even their nationality. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul records an event where he argued against an action that Peter had taken against Gentiles. (Be sure to read that scripture from Galatians in its entirety.)
Like Paul, Peter had been ministering the gospel – just as we are supposed to do as Christians. Yet, Paul recalls a time where Peter would not sit with or eat with Gentiles in the presence of other Jews (Gal. 2:12). However, when those Jews were not present, Peter would sit down with and eat with those same Gentiles. Does this seem like the right way for Peter to have treated those people? Why was Peter acting this way? Let’s keep studying.
The Jewish diet commanded by the Mosaic Law was not the same as the diet of Gentiles. Eating as Gentiles ate was considered a sin according to the Mosaic Law. So, Peter was trying to hide his “sin” from those Jews by not associating with the Gentiles in their presence. Sadly, Peter had not learned the lesson from what Christ had taught him on the rooftop in Joppa (Acts 10:9-16). That lesson: Peter no longer lived under the Mosaic Law.
Paul teaches Peter a valuable lesson
Peter was starving (Acts 10:10) and while in a trance, he heard the voice of Christ say, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat (Acts 10:13).” In this trance, Peter saw an object like a “great sheet” descend to him and in this sheet were four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air (Acts 10:12). Peter actually objected to Christ because killing and eating those things would have been a sin against the Mosaic Law. Yet, Christ responded directly to Peter and said, “What God has cleansed you must not call common (Acts 10:15).”
It is even shown in that passage of scripture that Peter would have had serious objections about entering into the home of a Gentile and associating with a Gentile because of the Mosaic Law (Acts 10:28). Such objections would have caused Peter to disregard his living under grace. He would have been a hypocrite at that time for saying he believed in Christ but acted with such prejudice towards others in his stewardship.
So, again, the lesson that Peter should have learned was that he was now living under Christ (grace). In the time recorded in Galatians, Paul tells Peter that he was wrong in how he was doing those Gentiles. Again, he would be friendly with them when not in the presence of Jews but would separate from them in the presence of Jews. Paul called Peter and the other Jews that were present, and even his traveling mate, hypocrites for their actions (Gal. 2:13). They were not serving in their role as Christians as Christ had intended.
The humble way of the stewards of Christ
We cannot be hypocrites while being stewards of Christ. The stewards of Christ are to be faithful (1 Cor. 4:2)! Paul, in his stewardship, associated himself with all people. Again, he ministered to the Jews, Gentiles, and those who were weak. Why? Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22).” This, he said he did for “the gospel’s sake” (1 Cor. 9:23).
Paul showed no prejudice to any person when it came to ministering the gospel. In his service, his stewardship, you found the love for which we as Christians are supposed to have towards all people. Paul was certainly a loud mouth (I believe) and difficult to get along with for some people, but nobody can argue that Paul did not have a different type of love to go as far as he did in his ministering. His love for others is what drove him to journey like he did, teach as much as he did, and write as much as did.
The True Role of a Christian
The role of a Christian in our society is to move with this kind of love towards all people. When I teach and preach to others about ministers and stewards in scripture, I like to show some of the lesser known ministers. My favorite example is Tabitha (Dorcas). Luke wrote about her in the book of Acts – Acts 9:36-43. Of her, Luke wrote, “This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds (Acts 9:36).”
Her good works and charitable deeds – her ministry – was geared towards widows (Acts 9:39). Tabitha made tunics and garments for the widows and she was well loved by those widows for her ministry to them. We do not know whether or not Tabitha verbally preached or taught the gospel of Christ. Yet, what we do know for a certainty is that she preached and taught the gospel through her actions! Tabitha lived the gospel of Christ in the role she served her community!
Ministers of the truth through actions as well
So, what is the role of a Christian? I hope that through this study, you’re able to now put more thought to answering this question. Yes, we are supposed to be ministers of truth, but the ministering of the gospel is not only said in word. No, ministering the truth of Christ is also preached in our very actions. This is a lesson that James taught in his writings when he said “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26).
So, you may very well minister Christ verbally, but do not think for one second that you are not serving in the role of a Christian through your actions as well. Our ministering of the gospel should be done without prejudice! How can we ever be ministers of the truth but work with prejudice in our hearts towards others? Prejudice and hatred is what prevents a Christian from truly serving in the role that God has appointed to all of those who believe. The role of a Christian is to be a loving servant to not just their community, but all people that are around them.