D. A. Carson in his book Christ and Culture Revisited writes,
It is hard to ignore the many injunctions of Scripture to do good, to show mercy, to care for the poor, to be concerned with matters of justice. If all such responsibilities belong to the church as a church, to the church as an institution, then surely the leaders of the church—its pastors/elders/bishops and deacons—should take responsibility for them and direct them. But what we find in the New Testament is that the initial leaders, the apostles, were careful to carve out for themselves the primacy of teaching the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6:2). Even matters of justice within the congregation were in some measure handed over to other spirit-filled men (6:1–7). When the distinctive duties of pastors/elders/bishops are canvassed, the priority of the ministry of the Word and prayer is paramount. These ministers preach and teach and evangelize (the ministry of the Word extends beyond preaching). It is within the church that people are baptized and come together around the Lord’s Table. Yet at the same time Christians are busy serving as salt in a corrupt world, as light in a dark world. Like the exiles in Jeremiah’s day (Jeremiah 29:1–7), Christians learn to do good in the city where they live, knowing full well that the prosperity of their city is both for the city’s good and for their good. This may n0t be the church’s mission, under the direction of the church’s leaders; it is certainly the obligation of Christians.
This discussion suggests that there are opposing dangers for thoughtful Christians. On the one side, some Christians apparently think that faithful evangelism and teaching the Bible are the only things about which they should be concerned. They need not get involved with, say, the indigent, or those who suffer from AIDS or who are abused. They need not concern themselves with the arts. More generally, they certainly do not need to get directly involved with the challenges of government. This stance is in danger of a docetic Christianity that overlooks the wholeness of the Bible’s teaching, that skirts the perennial tension between the “already” and the “not yet,” that simultaneously recognizes our heavenly citizenship and (with Paul) our citizenship in Rome (or France, or Australia, or Kenya). On the other side, some Christians become so engrossed in ministries of compassion and justice to the exclusion of evangelism and teaching the Bible, or so fascinated by the challenges of governing, that they delude themselves into thinking they are faithful when in reality they are overlooking what is central to any Christian’s obligation to the risen Lord. They marginalize their responsibilities as members of the church of Jesus Christ, the church that lives and dies by the great commission (D. A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisited [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008], 151–152).
Do you agree?