28 Feb The Gospel & Social Action
I want to explore the idea of being individuals who live the gospel out. Not just doing social gospel or social justice, but fleshing out the gospel in our everyday lives. First we’re going to look at the problem, and then we’re going to look at what we can do.
The problem, obviously, is sin. We were created in the image of God and there was right relationship. Sin distorted it and created conflict. Much of the conflict in our cities comes from our desires to create our own world.
God designed us to be creators and cultivators, to use our gifts to help address the conflicts and problems within our cities. We are responsible for creating solutions. This is the kingdom agenda. The gospel is not just a message of intellectual assent. It’s the good news that Jesus has come to restore our relationship with God, with one another, and with the land. We are ambassadors of God’s kingdom, ambassadors of the restoration and reconciliation of God.
When we look at Exodus, we see a beautiful picture of how God restores. By freeing the Israelites and giving them laws and a new land, God establishes dignity and identity in a people who were formerly slaves. In John 8 we see Jesus save a prostitute from her execution (which was a very political thing to do). And the beautiful thing is that he doesn’t just save her from her execution, he gives her a standard. He says, “Go and sin no more.”
Jesus doesn’t separate the act of hope from the hope of the message. The message of hope and the act of hope should never compromise the authenticity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.
There are a few ways I would like to encourage you to explore as you seek to flesh out the gospel in your life, neighborhood, and city.
One, is economic transformation. I want to encourage more pastors and Christians to turn their gaze to entrepreneurship – because it’s a mission. If Christians own more businesses, then guess what? We can use that as a mission field to reinforce the dignity of individuals as we provide jobs while also creating wealth for our communities.
A second area is education. There is so much room for kingdom work in education. I went to Indonesia some years ago and, in my naivety, I was sitting in a church service wondering why a group of women were going through English lessons with students in their congregation. And I was like, “We should be preaching the gospel!” But the reality is, if they can’t read and understand principles and concepts, then how will they understand the gospel message? I’m encouraged by seeing people who are using their time and resources to inform and reform education in our communities. This labor is incredibly value to the kingdom.
The final area is kingdom work in the political arena – concerning ourselves with the laws and injustices in our communities because they are obstacles that keep people from seeing Jesus for who he really is.
As Christians, we must take responsibility for restoring dignity into individuals. Restoring the image of God. And that’s just not an intellectual conversation, that’s a holistic change. How can we use the best of our resources, time, and talent to remove the obstacles that hinder people from seeing and knowing God for who he truly is? We won’t all be called to one issue. We are a family and we have so many talented individuals in our family. So I would just encourage you to pray. Look for a need, identify how God is asking you to work toward a solution, and try your best to meet it.
As we labor, we can work confidently, knowing that our labor is not in vain, for heaven will need no activists. Heaven will need no social justice because the Great Activist will make all things new.