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Why Should Christians Care about Anything at All?

Author: R. York Moore
Date: 07.10.2010
Category: Evangelism Training

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“I understand that these things are important but when the students I send to your conferences come back caring more for the environment or slavery or clean drinking water than the gospel and evangelism, I have a real problem!” These were the frustrated words of a mega-church pastor as we shared lunch together after I had delivered evangelistic messages for his four services. The comment came as we were discussing the new face of evangelism and how addressing the gospel through the lens of justice has produced so much fruit in our ministry nationally. This pastor’s concerns or not rare, there is a growing frustration with conservative evangelicals regarding the direction of the church, particularly when it comes to social justice issues. Racial reconciliation, caring and loving the creation, AIDS, child prostitution, urban poverty, immigration-the list of issues and causes Christians are awakening to is long and growing and the pastor’s “problem” is a good one to have. The questions of why we should and how we should care about the injustices and needs of the world around us need to be answered. Embracing causes without critique just because we think God cares about them is not a good trend.

The short answer to why we should care about injustice is because God does, but the deeper question is why does he? Certainly, all causes aren’t equal-caring for animals is not equal to setting children free from the brick kilns of India. Does God care about animals? Proverbs 12:10 says, “The righteous know the needs of their animals, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel,” (NRSV). Certainly, God and His people do and should care for the creation. While finding passages that demonstrate God’s love for animals is a bit challenging (even in my ‘Green Bible’!), it is nearly impossible to miss God’s concern and passion for the poor, the oppressed, and for those despairing. There is a hierarchy of needs so to speak when it comes to things that we are to be about. The needs of peoples both physical and eschatological certainly are at the top of such a hierarchy but this is where the lines get fuzzy. If a family of farmers on the Malaysian coast can no longer farm because of the effects of climate change and are thrust into abject poverty and are thus at a greater risk to be trafficked into forced labor by the powerful, it is difficult to untangle their temporal needs from their eternal needs. Additionally, we can see from this illustration how directly linked the issue of climate change is to poverty, oppression, and ultimately conversion. This may seem like a leap for many conservatives, but I don’t think it is an irrational one. Charles Finney said that one of the greatest obstacles to salvation was the blinding that comes from being worldly, or preoccupied with the overwhelming temporal needs of the world. Certainly, these Malaysian farmers need Jesus but they also need to be productive, own their own land, have access to the fruits of their labor, live free and enjoy the earth. These issues are not mutually exclusive and Jesus Christ is the answer to both sets of needs.

Keywords: InterVarsity, York Moore, IJM, World Vision, slavery, prostitution, evangelism, paradigms, witness, postmodern

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I was reading and trying to understand better your position and i agree that God is concerned about injustices and so should we. But God is not going to come and do away with it that is why he has us here to be "AGENTS OF CHANGE".


20.07.2011

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