Morality or the Gospel?
There is a common misunderstanding regarding Christianity. It is perceived by many as a system of morality for the world to subscribe to. But the principles of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus are not intended to provide a system of religious/moral discipline apart from a relationship with the living God. Some see the Scripture as merely a divinely sent constraint, within which man must live to please God.
Jesus made it clear that true spiritual life comes from a new heart, a newly created life, a born-again life that is created to interact directly with God by his Spirit through the gracious provision of spiritual freedom and life in Christ. Christianity literally means "Christ in one", referring to the indwelling prince of Christ via the Holy Spirit This is a relationship that is established by faith when one hears the gospel, repents and accepts the gift of life by faith.
Jesus often criticized the Pharisees of Judaism because they reduced spirituality to an outward adherence to a system of morality, rather than living out an inward life of the heart by the Spirit. The Israelites were indicted by God through the prophet Isaiah when he said, "These people worship me with their lips but their heart is far from me." (Isaiah 29:13)
And the Christian church has often fallen into the same trap, becoming institutionalized as it simply gathers people into its services and structures without concern for true spiritual life. Members are then determined to be in good standing as long as they’re doing the right things; i.e., attending church, “getting involved”, giving, etc. It then becomes hard to discern who is truly living out the life of the Spirit from those who are simply changing their social affiliation to include some “church” involvement.
The current tendency for Christians to comment forcefully on the political issues of the day shows that some believe their role is to inject “morality” into the culture, when in fact our calling is to present the gospel, the good news of salvation available to man in Christ. It is the only thing that offers true liberation of the soul, and God-given moral character (Romans 1:16). Unfortunately, the Christian church seems to think it’s doing its job by elevating “morality”.
Even if the world responded to our morality in a positive way, it would only result in marginally better control of evil. It would do nothing to bring the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
We must be diligent in staying true to our calling. The only way culture can be transformed, is with one transformed heart at a time.