Excerpt from the essay Los Evangelicos y la Transformación Integral
By Dr. Israel Ortiz
According to recent statistics, the number of evangelical Christians are steadily increasing in Central America and Mexico. The EFE news agency has reported that Guatemala is no longer a Catholic country but has seen a rise in the ranks of evangelical churches, tipping the scale in the favor of protestant evangelicals (8-14-2009).
Because of this, some boast that the rapid increase of evangelicals is a sign of God’s power. Others even dare to say that Guatemala is the new Jerusalem of America. But the reality is that this increasing presence has not impacted the social, economic, cultural, and political structures of society. Its influence has not been felt as it should. We must ask ourselves: why haven’t we affected the social structures of our communities, despite such rapid growth?
The challenge from Jesus to be salt – to prevent moral corruption in society – implies proclaiming the gospel and Christian values, which include all spheres of human life on earth. Unfortunately, there are some ways you could say that we have a negative balance when it comes to being salt and light to the nations.
A good example of comes from the arena of politics. In the past, when evangelical politicians gained enough popularity to ascend from the political margins to mainstream politics, they no longer attempted an evangelical influence over society. Conversely, the majority of evangelical politicians have gone unnoticed by state institutions. We are still waiting for a political evangelical presence that meets the standards of the gospel and has a true vision for the nation.
In Antioch the name “Christian” was given to the disciples for the first time. They were a multiracial, multicultural group and were diverse socially, culturally, economically, and in their giftedness. This young church demonstrated the plentiful life of Jesus: It had an evangelizing spirit, a thirst for the Word, and a concern for social justice. It overflowed in worship, saw the value of living in community, engaged in teamwork, was full of the gifts of the Spirit, and had a missional vision for the world.
Today we must ask ourselves: Do our churches reflect the principles of the NT? What kind of church are we? Are our neighborhoods being impacted by our church? Is there outreach from the church into the community?
The church in the NT is a theological community as much as a social community. It has its origin in God but is also embodied in historical reality. These people of God came from Jerusalem or Thesalonica. Thus, we must consider ourselves citizens of Heaven andearth. We cannot be absent from the social reality in which we live.
It is imperative that as evangelical Christians we assume the role of catalysts – to contribute to the spiritual and social transformation of our countries. This involves analyzing our presence and position as Christians in our countries, rethinking our mission theology, and raising up new generations in the abundance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to be a generation that not only protests sin, but attempts to bring about the ethics and values of the Kingdom
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of God in our own societies.