The other day I wrote a blog on preaching memorable, life changing sermons that drew a slew of controversy. It wasn’t about the preaching that was at odds, but a passing statement I made on my way to teaching how to make a sermon life changing. That statement was this:
One might have thought I’d made some heretical statement by the way my Facebook notifications lit up. But instead, I apparently bruised the sensibilities of a theological tenet thats locus is found in social justice.
However, my statement wasn’t made in a vacuum; instead it’s grounded firmly in scripture. The whole conversation, in reality, is rooted in a biblical understanding of the mission of every faithful “missional” church.
In the New Testament the church isn’t charged with solving society’s shortcomings. We’re not charged with eliminating poverty, legislating morality, or raising the standards of living. The New Testament is pretty clear who we’re responsible for: “One Another” and our “Brothers and Sisters.” A non-culturally biased answer shows that the ones the church is responsible for caring for are other Christians.
Now, that doesn’t mean we’re not to be about doing good – we are. But the good we’re charged with doing has but one purpose: to make disciples, starting out by making more of them (which is the mandated mission of every single follower of Jesus).
Jesus set the example. Let’s face it, he was pretty unsympathetic with the poor; he healed a limited number (not everyone … indeed, he was quite selective at times); and he raised no one’s standard of living. He didn’t address any social ills of his day, including racism, slavery, foreign occupation, the role of women, poverty, to name a few.
Instead, Jesus was clear that his task was to make faithful followers who would make faithful followers. And he made it clear that was the church’s task as well.
Would that bring about social change? Only if the church got busy with Job #1 rather than trying to solve all the systemic problems by legislation, protesting, lobbying, etc.
Heart change is the only way to change society. And that’s the only task the church was given. Change hearts. If we’d put our energy and focus on that for the past 2000 years, the world would be in a very different place.
But we keep thinking our job is the fix the world.