Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Social Consciousness, Social Justice, and the Church

It seems, that among many, social consciousness has become not only the new mantra, but also the new litmus test for the church. David Platt's new book "Radical" has been the buzz as of late and has supposedly stepped on many a toe regarding this issue.  As with most bandwagons, those who have climbed aboard the social consciousness/social justice bandwagon:

               1. Don't understand why everyone doesn't see it the
                   same way they do.
               2. Stand in judgment of those who aren't on the bandwagon.
               3. Feel morally superior because they are on the bandwagon.
               4. Are overemphazing one area of ministry to the
                   detriment of others.

In my mind, the issue is not what is the church doing or not doing, but what is each one of us doing, personally, right where God has put us here in the US? Each community has its own share of the poor, and each church has its own share of the poor.  It is easy to beat the drum and chide the church, while we are doing nothing personally. What about the poor in our own churches, are we looking for ways to help them, do we even know who they are? And when we know who they are, do we look for ways to assist, giving directly out of our own personal means? Not to be jaded, but I have seen far too many on the social concious band-wagon get all worked up about Africa, Asia, Appalachia,etc, while ignoring the people right under their nose.

Another note, pastorally, this is why Paul admonished Timothy to preach the word, in season and out with mega patience and instruction. People very rarely change in one sermon or one sermon series, or one book. We can put the guilt whip/guilt trip on them to get them to respond for the moment, but the conformational process takes time, and it is way too easy for us as pastors to become impatient and frustrated when the results we are wanting to see aren’t immediately visible.

God typically works at the speed of life and at the pace of people, and still is ultimately sovereign over the lives of all people. Jesus did not heal every disease, cast out every demon, or feed all of the poor as He could do nothing of His own initiative because He sought not His own will, but only the will of Him who sent Him (John 5:30).

We should have a heart of compassion, and be merciful; we need to be generous and ready to share (past what we give to the church/ministries) and rich towards God. This comes about as we move forward in maturity, walk more in love, and become less self-seeking. Selfishness (and we are all selfish pigs) gives way slowly. So let’s have zeal and passion, but temper that with wisdom about the way people truly are, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart, and turn people off with our frustration or condemning attitude.

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