Summary: Christians Making a Difference in the Community
Christians Making a Difference in the Community
One of the great debates consuming our society today is the debate over the separation of church and state. The debate finds its source in a statement made by Thomas Jefferson in the 1800’s concerning the “wall of separation.” Some argue that the “wall of separation” that Jefferson referred to when he wrote to Baptist in Connecticut was the separation between church and state. Others argue that the “wall of separation” that Jefferson was referring to was the “wall of separation” between the federal government and state governments. Needless to say, today we have many people spending a great deal of energy to keep the sacred with the sacred and the secular with the secular.
The problem that is often found in church and state relations in found in how the two often times view on another. When it comes to the secular, Christians often have the perspective of the government as an evil empire. This perspective is generated often times by what the scriptures declare about the secular government. On one hand, you have the state being described as controlled by demonic powers. It was the apostle Paul who said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. ” In the book of Revelation we find the godless government at its worst destined for destruction. On the other hand, the scriptures clearly declare the government in a positive light. The apostle Paul tells us that the government is ordained and authorized by God and that Christians are to obey the authorities of the secular government for that very reason.
Here is the reality of this seemingly contradiction. God establishes the government and at times will function as God intends it to do, but at other times the secular government established by God functions as God never intended it to do. The secular Government is much like the sacred church. The church is also established by God, and at times functions as a blessing to all, but at other times the God established church acts like the devil and brings misery on many.
With all this said, how do we as Christians make a difference in a secular society? How do we impact the secular with the sacred? How do we keep ourselves from the one extreme of isolationism as well as the other extreme of secularism? The last thirteen verses of the twenty-first chapter of Genesis give us some great insight into answering these questions.
In these verses we have two characters, Abraham and Abimelech. This is not the first time that we have met Abimelech in our study of the life of Abraham. In chapter twenty we were introduced to Abimelech on account of the foolish actions of Abraham and Sarah. They lied to Abimelech about their marital situation, a lie that would put Abimelech under the judgment of God. The meeting of the two in these verses in different from the first meeting.
The meeting of Abraham and Abimelech is significant to answering the questions that have been proposed. It is significant because you have a Patriarch and a prince meeting together. It is significant because you have the sacred and the secular coming together for the purpose of good. This coming together of the two parties comes in a form of a covenant, an oath taken between two parties. The situation that is presented in these verses enables us as Christians to see how we can truly make a difference in our community. It enables us to see how we can participate in the secular without loosing the sacred. If we as Christians and as a church are going to make a difference in our community then we must first earn respect by means of your experience with God.
I. Earn Respect by means of Your Experience with God
We see this truth demonstrated in verse twenty-two, “Now it came about at that time that Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, ‘God is with you in all that you do.” The period of time between Abraham and Abimelech’s first meeting is debatable. It would seem that the period of time is about three to four years, enough time for Abraham and Sarah to conceive and have a child. During this period of time Abimelech was able to observe the life of Abraham. The conclusion that Abimelech came to was that Abraham experienced God in his life and it was evident.
The evidence of Abraham’s experience was made known to Abimelech when the two first met back in chapter twenty. Even though Abraham had deceived Abimelech and put him in a dangerous situation, Abimelech recognized the hand of God upon Abraham. The first evidence that God was with Abraham came to Abimelech in a dream. The Lord spoke to Abimelech in a dream and warned him about Sarah. He also said to Abimelech that Abraham, Sarah’s husband, was a prophet. The second indication that the Lord’s hand was upon Abraham came to Abimelech after he confronted Abraham concerning his sin. After Abimelech made restored Sarah back to Abraham, Abraham prayed for Abimelech and the Lord heard Abraham’s prayer and he healed the plague that had come upon Abimelech’s household. Without a doubt these two instances gave evidence to Abimelech that Abraham had an experience with God and God was with him. But I also imagine that over the three or four years that Abimelech watched Abraham live his life and how God blessed Abraham’s life that he knew without a doubt that God was with him in all that he did.