The Social Gospel...what is it if it doesn't get social? - Matthew - pages 180-185
The reading today stirred up an old "derogatory" phrase I used to hear in my church growing up. "The social gospel" It was spoken of as some cheap and liberal version of the real gospel. Anathema...Accursed! I understand the danger of the ditch on either side of the road, but as I've read the Scriptures, I can't see how you could read them without picking up on Jesus' heart for social justice and humanitarian compassion.
Based on the verse in Matthew 25 today, I spun off and grabbed a few more verses that provided some fundamental tweaks that need to be made with what I call anti-social Christianity:
1. Christianity isn’t just about going to church to find Jesus, it’s also about looking for and finding him in the hurting world.
**Matthew 25:34-40 - “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
2. Christianity isn’t just about a weekend service, it’s a weekday movement.
**Isaiah 58:5-8 - 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
3. Christianity isn’t just about a personal holiness, it’s about social wholeness.
**James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
4. Christianity isn’t just about right doctrine, it’s about right action.
**Galatians 2:9-10 - James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
5. Christianity isn’t just about meeting spiritual needs, it’s about meeting physical needs.
**I John 3:16-18 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
When you go to church you encounter the body of Christ, but when you go to the world, you encounter the face of Christ.
Lord, I want to see your face today.