Organized causes are innumerable.
It takes about five minutes on social media to realize that just about every person has their favorite “cause” or purpose for which they strive. For some, it’s social justice; for others, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, etc., etc., etc. The world is fragmented, and rarely is it united under one common cause, despite its incessant claims.
Unity and Plurality
This is all, of course, is to be expected of a fallen world. Within the context of sin, it is normal for either unity or plurality to be emphasized to the exclusion of the other. Today, when it comes to causes, plurality reigns. There is no meta-narrative to bring worldly people together. But sometimes, the world does adopt various axioms which causes it to lose whatever it had of plurality. Communism is one of the greatest examples of this. It levels the playing field and turns economic society into a class-monolith. All people have the same opportunity which is really to say, all people have no opportunity. They are bound to the one, single norm. There is no alternative. After all, an alternative would require something else—another choice—which would entail plurality! Even still, when one cause claims victory over all the others, it always governs in a disproportionate manner because creation simply cannot function properly on under the artificial grid-work of worldly philosophy.
It’s only within the Christian system that unity and plurality are brought together on many different fronts, but ultimately (metaphysically), in the Triune God, which is one in essence, subsisting in three relations (or subsistences): Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You see, then, unity and plurality brought to harmony within the Godhead.
This unity and plurality, explained by Christian metaphysics in its doctrine of God, carries over into the Person and work of Christ as He relates to His covenant people, the church. There is a social unity and plurality available in Christ, enjoyed only by His church, and found nowhere else. The cause of the church is Christ Jesus—He’s the Author and perfecter of her faith. Therefore, it is the church’s sole mission to exalt Christ, live to Christ, and make Him known among the nations, which, simply put, is the only right and chiefest way of glorifying God. This is the only means by which the world is changed beyond the temporary application of a band-aid.
Trading Unity for Plurality
When the church moves from its center toward other causes (i.e. social justice, political policy, etc.) it becomes utterly powerless. Giving up the unity which comfortably accounts for its plurality, the church dives headlong into a pile of splinters, fighting for one issue there, or one issue here. It is an unchained plurality of arbitrary purposes without any unity. The church, in essence, gives up its chief end in order to adopt another, despite the seldom admission of that fact.
The problem here is that unity is sacrificed on the altar of plurality. At this point, someone may object that the plethora of causes, which the church often zealously adopts in lieu of the gospel-proper, are indeed consistent with and required by the gospel. But, such an assertion is really meaningless since, in all practicality, these battles are often fought by many within the church without the gospel as the primary weapon. A gospel implication is not the gospel and has no power to do anything should it be abstract from the preaching of Christ crucified. It may be an application of the gospel to fight injustice, but how do we fight injustice if not with the power of God revealed for salvation (Rom. 1:16)?
Switching Focus Away from the Explicit Christ
I have heard it said that we must “do more than just preach the gospel!” But this neglects the very power of God—the central unifying factor which brings the church together and keeps her alive while simultaneously combating the plurality of anti-Christian movements and concepts. The Spirit of God, by means of the Word preached, kills sin. Christ preached is the only sword sharp enough to take off the dragon’s head. Yet, many within the church want to give that sword up in order make use of a weaker weapon. Bu this is an evil which itself needs remedied by a clearer, truer understanding of the gospel! Again, we circle back to the Word proclaimed, and Christ exalted. The preached Christ is a sufficient Christ.
Where Our Hope Lies
In many ways this issue could be traced back to the sufficiency of Scripture, and one could even say the sufficiency of the gospel. But I think Paul puts things in perspective when he begins his address to young Timothy: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Tim. 1:1, 2).”
Who and what should the church expect? In whom or what should the church hope? The hope of the church, the expectation of the church, must begin and end with Christ and all of God’s promises which find their fulfillment in Him alone. When we take that out of our preaching, when we act as if Christ is not the center and erect an abomination in the temple, we lose all power and we lose all hope. When we forsake Christ, there is no reason we should expect substantial change. God changes hearts, but He changes hearts by means of the gospel preached, as it is applied by the Spirit.