In our fellowship group, we are going through a series focused on helping the poor in other countries. The line seems to always be, “these people need to know Christ, BUT we need to meet their physical needs too.” The problem is, the gospel message never seems to get in there. Then the term “social justice” gets thrown in and all I can think about are the corrupt, socialist politicians who use the same term. What should I make of high-profile leaders, ministries, and regular people who strive for this social justice and seem to neglect all mention of sin and redemption? The explicit message is “Go into the world and heal the world,” instead of “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15). Am I being too cynical here?
I don’t think the Bible ever taught believers to right the social wrongs in the world, but instead to tell the world about Jesus. That’s because He promised that when we help people focus on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, their physical needs will be met as well (Matt. 6:31-33). By focusing on the needs of this world, instead the requirements for eternal life, we may be addressing someone’s immediate problem but in the process we’re ignoring their ultimate one. Following the Biblical imperative of making disciples of all people addresses both.