Social Gospel, Pt. 2

May 10, 2013 at 1:13 PM

In the Social Gospel in our first installment, we learned that helping people physically is what we need to do just as Jesus did.  A person focusing on their hunger makes it difficult to hear about God who loves them and gave His life for them. But we cannot stop there.

Jesus approached ministry by often meeting the physical needs of people. But He always shared the gospel with them.  He fed thousands.  He healed the sick. He cared for people tangibly, but He always taught and preached. That is what Christians are called to do.

Because of the social gospel, Christians often wind up simply helping someone physically and believe that this “spreads” the gospel. This is absolutely not how Jesus did it.  Romans 10:14 says, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

We are called to preach the gospel to all people.  Anyone who argues that it is more important to meet a person’s physical needs and not worry about preaching the gospel (because our actions have done that) has missed the point.  We need to preach the gospel.  This is not done only by taking care of a person’s hunger or lack of clothing.  It is done by opening our mouths.  There is no other way.

Too many Christians believe that our government (in America) should reach out to the poor and homeless as an extension of the church.  We are a wealthy nation (not so much anymore) and because of that, we should be leading the way in meeting the needs of those less fortunate.

This is one of the reasons why there are so many professing Christians who support open borders, relaxing restrictions on entitlement programs for illegal aliens, giving them driver’s licenses, and in essence taking what hard-working people have earned and simply giving it away to those who haven’t earned anything.  There is a huge problem with this because of what it creates.

As Don Tack (one of the writers I referred to in part one) stated, “Doing justice for the poor is about liberation – not furthering or fostering dependency.” [1] This is absolutely true. People who are routinely given everything come to think they deserve it and that they should not have to work for it.  This mentality does not exist in the Bible. Anyone who thought like this then would have starved.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 stated, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” But someone might ask, what if a person did not have a job for some reason? That doesn’t seem fair. Paul said “unwilling,” not “unable.” He was also speaking to those who had quit their jobs because Jesus was coming back at any moment. We need to keep working.

But there is a way to “work” even if not gainfully employed during Paul’s day. For instance, do you recall when Jesus angered the religious leaders because He and His disciples were going through the grain fields and gleaning grain to eat? We read about this in Mark 2.

The religious leaders charged that what they were doing amounted to “work” and this was against the Law of Moses. Actually, what they were doing was not prohibited by the Mosaic Law, but by their tradition. Jesus tried to straighten them out, but simply succeeded in further angering them.

In essence, though it was a form of work, it was not prohibited by Mosaic Law because people had to eat. The grain that was left standing in the fields was purposefully left for the poor. They were allowed to come and take what they could take with their hands (they could not use threshing tools) to put some food in their stomachs.

In other words, the landowners obeyed the Law by leaving some grain standing (as a donation). Poor people could come by to help themselves by working to take the grain. If they did not go into the fields, pick the grain, rub it together to separate chaff from wheat, they would not eat. No one would do that for them. They had to be willing to work for it.

In today’s world, we have too many Christians who want to give away the farm taking from those who have worked hard to have what they have. The people on the receiving end of things don’t appreciate it because it’s simply a hand out. It does not help them learn how to earn their own living. This is not fair to them at all (or those from whom additional taxes are taken).

There is one very large charity in the next town. They provide food, clothing and other needs all free of charge.  They always present the gospel clearly and their secondary goal (after salvation) is to help people become self-sufficient, to break the chains of dependency. People like Al Sharpton are not doing that. He simply keeps people tethered to the government.

This type of ministry is the correct way to minister to people. It is a balanced approach.

By the way, for the authentic Christian who learns how to sacrifice so that the poor may have what they actually need, we learn to overcome the sin of materialism.  That’s a good thing.

There is much to be said for the two-fold ministry that Christ created and exemplified. All too often, ministry leans to one side or the other today.  We need to get beyond that and dig in and Jesus dug in, fulfilling needs where we can, always presenting the gospel clearly, and helping people to learn to rely on themselves, not the government.


[1] VOICE, May/June 2013, Biblical Church Based Poverty Ministry, Don Tack, p. 17

Entry filed under: Judaism, Life in America, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics. Tags: , .

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