As always, the best I can do is share my convictions. I’ve spent my whole life studying the Scriptures and the cultural-historical background behind them. No one could count the hours I’ve spent contemplating and praying about it. Words cannot express the sense of divine peace I have found. Still, I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to find ways to put into words what it means to me. Maybe it will help you clarify your grasp on your own convictions.
We cannot afford to forget one fundamental truth: This world is fallen. This is not what God had in mind for us, but He allowed us to choose it as an option. No human ever born is in a position to hold God accountable for the way things are. So what’s left is to understand how things are, because we cannot change them. We do have some options in changing ourselves, but not the situation. For each of us, the only thing that really matters is how we respond to revelation, because divine revelation is all we have to work with.
The reason mankind is in this mess is because mankind chose at some point to ignore revelation in the first place. That’s the whole meaning of the Fall. So long as humans remain in that fallen state, nothing they do matters. The sum total of their lives and their deaths are meaningless. Only when they begin responding to revelation does anything meaningful happen.
So it’s not that life is inherently meaningless, but that life on a fallen level is meaningless. It’s not that human life has no value, but that without Christ it has no value. And that doesn’t mean that Christians can kill non-Christians with moral impunity, but that Christians should hope and pray that they can somehow play a role in God bringing more people to His Son.
But even that effort must follow revelation. Most Christian activity in this direction has been chasing the wind, ignoring revelation. They have substituted an awful lot of varied human solutions to a divine problem, and have mostly made things worse. The only thing you can actually do that matters is manifesting your desire to please God. You won’t actually be able to succeed consistently, but if people can see your desire, that’s the most you can do to help them and yourself. It’s not the performance, but the desire that matters.
A part of that desire is joining others in a covenant community. Revelation says a primary necessity in manifesting God’s glory is our readiness to fellowship with His children. There will be limits, and rarely have His children properly understood that, but revelation does warn us about it. Our fellowship and communion has to take into account the whole revelation of how we should do things together. We don’t get there by using fallen capabilities, but by divine power, and we have to understand that God will not exercise His power according to our convenience.
More importantly, His way will never serve human ends, except by accident. The whole point is to avoid pursuing human ends in the first place. We have no need for credibility with the fallen world around us. We need what God provides, and His children have gotten that mostly wrong through the ages. So we have a long legacy of “church” involvement doing some of the stupidest things in human history. In broad general terms, churches have done a really bad job of things, staying too deeply mired in fallen human concerns. When Christ returns and burns up the works of fallen mankind, most of Church History will burn with it.
We can summarize by saying churches have been entirely too worldly. Right now, that’s only getting worse. The solution is to be a lot more otherworldly. This world is doomed, and nothing belonging to it is worth saving. Stop trying to change the world. A primary part of Satan’s deception of the human race is the belief that human nature can be changed. Humans are not malleable at all. Only a divine miracle can do any good, and human means cannot accomplish divine miracles.
This is why we stand aside from the normal human preoccupations with making this world a better place. It cannot be made better. The only hope is to mitigate the sorrow just a little by obeying divine revelation. Scripture reveals plainly that it is impossible to impose any solution on humans from the outside. Despite His direct intervention in the history of Israel, that history proves beyond all doubt that there can be no government system that changes the hearts of fallen people from the outside. Without personal individual redemption, in the form of a divine miracle, a nominally good life on this earth is utterly impossible — both individually and in community.
So a critical element in what Christ taught, and bought on the Cross, was a form of human community that avoids the worst of human frailties. It relies entirely on Him. Any time you start adding human ideas of efficiency and purpose, you ruin it. Your only hope to gain anything at all from God is to reduce the human element, to keep it fragile and gossamer from a human perspective so that God can have more control.
And divine revelation says that the best way to do that is to make church as much like an extended family household as possible. It must remain small, and it must have a tribal soul. We won’t rehash all the particulars here, but it requires Two Witnesses — an elder to rule and a pastor to guide. It can be no bigger than what those two men can handle personally. This body must develop it’s own individual culture and religion, adapted to its unique context, based on a covenant. Church families can align and cooperate, but day to day existence must be handled internally.
That’s how the human race is designed to live in a fallen world. Anything outside of that plan is doomed. We should show no significant interest in any other system of human government. We might have some useful ideas to help other forms of government, but only with the awareness that it won’t make any significant difference in the long run. We are not to entangle ourselves in such things, as if any of it could really matter. Understand it, infiltrate it if that’s your mission from God, but don’t actually commit to any human aspirations.
All of Creation is just a tool for His glory. We use this world as a means to point people outside of this world. We have no obligation to be any earthly good, though serving Christ will often make us seem useful for certain limited concerns. If we understand divine revelation, we will inevitably have a superior grasp of how reality works, but our focus is not in this realm of existence. We are eager for God to call us Home to be with Him when He’s through with us here.