When Jesus ascended to Heaven in front of His disciples, he provided them with the mandate to go and make disciples throughout the world (Mt. 28:18-20). In essence, he was calling his disciples to rise above the society they were living in, and make the choice to live life differently; he was calling them to live life as a part of the Kingdom of God rather than citizens of an earthly society. At the same time, the example Jesus provided the disciples over the course of his three-year ministry engaged the society surrounding him to make God known.
Disciples of Jesus Christ today are called to also influence people into a right relationship with Jesus, and unlike some of our predecessors, we must find a way to work within the society we live in. The Crusades, for instance, stands as a black eye for the church because it was believed the only way to spread the Gospel was through force in order to create change (Vago, 2003). However, Jesus made the choice to not use force, even though that was exactly what some of the disciples expected him to do (Mk. 10). Jesus chose more an approach that focused on influencing the existing culture to bring about societal change, which we see in the pages of Acts, and the historical account of the spread of the church and Christianity through heart change in individuals and Christ’s principles infusing communities and society as a whole.
In our social media rich, celebrity driven, subjective truth society, the temptation is to succumb to the pressures around us. What we must remember, and what the disciples knew, was that temporary acceptance by society pales in comparison to eternal life through obedience to an eternal God. It all comes down to the perspective of our choices.
Vago, S. (2003). Social change (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.