I’m reading an excellent book by Ray Ortlund, The Gospel Culture, which explores the fundamental connection between what we believe and how we behave, particularly as a Christian community. He draws this interesting parallel:
“If I want to examine Marxism, I can read two thousand tedious pages of Das Kapital by Karl Marx, or I can look at the countries that have put Marxism to work. The Soviet Union, for example, collapsed in 1991 under the weight of its own tragic stupidity. What went wrong? Did the Soviets fail to live by their Marxism? No, it was their faithfulness to Marxism that undid them. Marxism cannot work because it does not build on the truth about God and man. It builds on a fantasy of human self-idealization.
In a similar way, you can consider Christianity either by earning a PhD in biblical studies, or simply by getting up a little earlier next Sunday morning and visiting a church. The gospel should be displayed most clearly in our churches. Therefore, how we “behave in the household of God” matters to everyone around us.”
What a telling analogy. The church, in all its messiness but being redeemed and renewed by Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit, is God’s chosen apologetic for His precious gospel. How we love one another in the local expressions of Christ’s body is absolutely vital. In fact, God’s people are described as a “pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Where churches drift from the Good News, they become as dead and irrelevant as the Soviet Union, discrediting and shaming the One who died to save us. Let us hope and pray that our “conduct is in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14).