Join 181 other subscribers
Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad
Tag Archives: Social Gospel
Funny Thing About History… It Repeats
Leave a comment Posted by Kevin Barnes on March 30, 2010
Have you ever wondered why Israel failed at their job to evangelize the world (Scripture calls it being a priest nation) and why they missed Jesus as their Messiah? And, are we falling into the same trappings in the US, now?!?!?! I think so…
I posed these questions to one of my classmates and this is what she said (I think she’s right):
I believe Israel looked inward partially because they were an “obstinate people”, as God declared through Isaiah (Isaiah 65:2), but also because they walked the fine line of not mingling with the Canaanites and other peoples they encountered during the Exodus and as they conquered the Holy Land, yet living life as the apple of God’s eye and slated to be a kingdom of priests. It can be hard to understand how to follow God without becoming legalistic. The same holds true today in the US today. One need not look far to find Christian groups that have separated so far from the rest of the world that they cannot possibly be a witness to those around them that don’t know Christ. Even just by spending almost exclusively time in our Christian circles, we can easily get caught up in a separate world.
Personally, I think that they focused in on the tangible aspect of the covenant – the land – without thinking about the purpose of the covenant (or rather they mistook the purpose of the covenant). I think they thought that they were so cool with God that He just loved blessing them for their own prosperity and enjoyment rather than the prosperity being a sign/proof to glorify God and make it possible for Israel to engage in the ministry of reconciliation.
I think we do the same here and now… We get so caught up in the tangible (the physical/material prosperity God has allowed this nation to have) and we get so comfortable in our own exclusive Christian circles that we become useless for the Kingdom (I say “we” on purpose, because I’m including me). I heard a quote somewhere that, “money (blessings) is (are) like manuer… it’s no good unless you spread it all around (like fertalizer)”… What God blessed Israel with and what He has blessed us with (corporately and individually) wasn’t just for our enjoyment and ease (why would there be so much about suffering in the NT if that were the case)… Instead it is for us to be a blessing to others in order to share God’s message of Love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc… You know, the ministry of reconciliation (spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5).
Like I said, I’ve been thining about ancient Israel’s failures for several years and somewhat paralelling that to the US. But, the stats Dr. Wheeler shared in my personal evangelism class were so shocking (i.e. some 90% + of Christians don’t actively share their faith AT ALL) that it shook me out of my stupor… I think now way more than ever that personal evangelism and world missions is not just an important aspect of the Christian life, but it is THE most important aspect of it… Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries calls it “THE Cause.” I just hope we, as the Body of Christ, take our calling in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 5 so much more seriously and that we get on board with God’s program so that we do not continue to flounder away in the same old rut that ancient Israel did.
Blog Updates, Gospel, Ministry, Theological Arguments, Uncategorized 2 Corinthians, Bible, Bible errant, Big Government, blessings, Christ, Christianity, covenant, Easter, evangelism, failure, forgiveness, God, Gospel, government aid, History, Holy Land, Israel, Jesus, Jews, Kingdom, Life After Death, Meaning of Life, Messiah, Passion Week, Prosperity, Purpose of Life, Real Christians, Repeating History, Salvation, Social Gospel, Social Reform, socialism, United States, US Failures, world missions
Should We Be Embarrassed?
1 Comment Posted by Kevin Barnes on March 11, 2010
Many people today reject Jesus because they perceive Christians as hypocritical, uncaring, exclusive, bigoted, etc. and/or they think are skeptical and believe we all have ulterior motives.
Because of this, they rightly challenge us with difficult questions such as:
Does your religion help society? Does it help me, whether I’m in your group or not? Or are you just another self-serving group?
I think one of the best passages to answer this set of questions is James 2:14-18:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
This passage places a focus on servant-evangelism. Contrary to one popular view, this passage isn’t talking about salvation (Salvation is faith alone in Christ alone), instead it’s talking about our witness before other people. Because of what Jesus did for us and because we are children of God (who in 1 John 4 is called love itself) we need to love other people regardless of their spiritual condition. Not only do we need to love in our hearts we need to love them practically.
This is NOT to be confused with a social gospel (doing random acts of kindness without sharing Jesus with them), but rather doing good works in the name of Jesus. But we also need to be careful to not appear to being coercive and having ulterior motives – We need to love for Love’s sake (for God is Love).
Being selfless in our love will be compelling to those who have a strong emotional connection to this set of questions, particularly if they or someone close to them is directly and practically impacted by our acts of love.
There is a tract from the North American Mission Board called “Why We’re Here…” it ties in well with this passage (and is good for passing out when you are doing a public act of love/service). Let’s look at this tract as an application from what is implied from the James 2 passage above.
The tract says:
Often people ask what brought us here, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. There are three simple reasons I came to serve others this week…
- I met God one day, and He has changed my life. I used to live my life pretty selfishly. Then I met the God of the Bible. Now I care about people and meeting their needs in a brand new way.
- I want you to see God’s love in my service. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, NIV). I want you to know that I’m serving others because of God’s love in my life.
- I hope you will want to know more about how to have a personal relationship with God. John 3:16 is just one verse in the Bible, but it explains a great deal about God and His plan for you. If you have a few minutes, I’d be happy to talk with you about knowing God personally through Jesus.
As a Christian I’m often embarrassed that society expects the government to take care of social issues! Jesus has called for us to take care of the poor and helpless. We need to love and care for people because He does. If we love Him we will love what He loves.
Let’s follow what the Scripture says here in James 2 and Matthew 5:16 and put hands and feet to the Gospel!