How a Christian Can Influence Culture for the Good

How a Christian Can Influence Culture for the Good May 8, 2024

How a Christian Can Influence Culture for the Good

Of course, there are numerous ways in which a Christian can influence society and culture for the good. I write here as an Anabaptist who does not believe in Christians using coercion or force to control “the public square.” But what can an Anabaptist-inclined Christian do beyond speaking out, beyond persuasion, beyond prophetic speech, beyond writing letters to the editor?

I was watching a major network news program, on nation-wide television, when, there!, I saw a familiar face—my former student—on national television being interviewed about solutions for urban homelessness.

I won’t name him here because I haven’t gained his permission. And his name isn’t important for the point I want to make.

He was an excellent student, eager, attentive, conscientious, concerned about social justice. The class was one about Christian social ethics. We read a wide variety of “voices” about the subject, all primary sources. He was especially eager to learn and put into practice social justice initiatives. But he was leaning into Anabaptism, as I was. We read John Howard Yoder’s classic The Politics of Jesus. I could tell it was having some impact on him.

Later, after graduation, I kept in touch with him for a while. Then we ended up living in the same distant major US metropolitan area plagued with homelessness. Homeless encampments everywhere. People begging on almost every intersection. I heard that he was working with a Mennonite church to help the homeless find shelter. I was also joining a Mennonite church. Our paths didn’t cross but we knew some of the same people.

Then I heard his name on the local news. He was called the “czar” of homelessness solutions for the city. He was working closely with the mayor. I was proud of him and sent him an email, via the secretary of that office. I didn’t hear back. I chalked it up to him being very busy.

Then I saw him on national news. I recognized him before his name was mentioned. He was showing the news interviewer tiny houses he helped the city plan and build for homeless people seeking shelter. I was so proud of him.

A Christian does not have to be involved in coercion or violence to work with government. A pacifist, as I’m sure he is, can work with government without compromising his or her conscience.

Many people mistakenly think a pacifist cannot work in government. That is not true. Some Anabaptists think so, too, but they are wrong. My student proves it. There are numerous roles in government for pacifists.

Withdrawal is not the only option for Anabaptists and other pacifists. My student is a case study. May his tribe increase.

*Note: If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

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