Our lives in society ought not to be characterized by trying to get ahead, trying to advance our own agenda, or trying to do what’s best for us; our goal in society ought to be to submit ourselves to the needs of others—submit to governing authority, submit to our employer, submit to the needs of others in our families.
Why is it so important to have our motivation right about how we live in society? Why is it important that we don’t try to motivate ourselves and others with grand ambitions of societal transformation?
First, God never promised grand societal transformation, and so if we make that our goal, it can lead to deep discouragement. I know some people who are very active in trying to push for massive social change, and they’re some of the grumpiest and at times angriest people I know. Why? Because they’re not seeing results. They’re discouraged. They may see little advances here or there, but certainly not the kind of massive social change they think God has promised them. And often times, those kinds of people end up burning out. How many big-name Christians have we seen burn out and fall away from the faith in just the past several years? God never commands us to do massive, amazing, earth shattering things in society. He commands us to be holy and faithful.
Second, when societal transformation is our goal, we inevitably lose our mission as the church. If our central mission as a church becomes anything other than making disciples—and even as individuals, if our central mission is grand societal transformation, history has shown that we end up losing the gospel. But if our goal as churches is making disciples who are holy and faithful in society, and if our goal as individual Christians is holiness and faithfulness in society, then we just may have at least a small influence.
Third, when societal transformation is our goal, we fail to recognize the value of the “ordinary”—common vocations and ordinary people. We tend to buy into a celebretyism that praises the larger-than-life people and undervalues faithful, ordinary people. We want heroes, when we should deeply value regular, faithful fathers and mothers and grandparents and pastors and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.