Sharing Jesus’ Gospel in Deeds and Words

December 2, 2008 — Leave a comment

In the ongoing quest for balance and against either/or alternatives, I want to offer the following for your comment.  In part 4 of our series on the Gospel (“Sent Together to Heal”) we used the account from the last blog entry on Gandhi and Christianity.  One more comment from E. Stanley Jones.  He sites Gandhi suggesting that missionaries and other Christians should just be like perfume – without words attracting people to Jesus.  While acknowledging that there are times when we need to stop talking and let our lives “catch up” with our profession of Christ, the point is made that Gandhi’s words are a corrective to a bad example.  Even Jesus didn’t depend on his example alone.  Proclamation must be linked with demonstration – but proclaim we must.  Not one way of expression; not a formula or magic words, but clear words about the one who is called THE Word.

Several decades ago, a collaborative effort in world evangelization called the Lausanne Congress was held.  It is now called the Lausanne Movement and it is an on-going and wonderful deposit of the best in Missions thinking from around the world.  It’s “slogan” has been used by many including myself to capture the vision: THE WHOLE CHURCH TAKING THE WHOLE GOSPEL TO THE WHOLE WORLD.   John R. W. Stott of England was the chief architect of a statement called the Lausanne Covenant.  One paragraph addresses the balance of evangelism and social responsibility.  (read the whole document too!) I invite your response.

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, color, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbor and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

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