The Gospel and Social Justice

Any genuinely redeemed person will be sensitized to human need. Our humanitarian impulses will be augmented by the compassion of Christ’s life within us. As Christians we believe in intervening to help those in need. Work for social justice that is undergirded by the gospel is a demonstration of the kingdom of God.  So of course we are to work for justice and the betterment of living conditions for all in need. We cannot obey Scripture without standing against and working against injustice and subjugation. But we also cannot and must not supplant the gospel itself with social ministry. They should go together. Caring, loving acts done in Jesus’ name are very effective precursors to evangelism. Our compassionate deeds open doors for the gospel. And social ministry will be the result of gospel proclamation. Any understanding of church history shows that. Wherever the gospel holds sway life gets better and living conditions improve. But social justice is not the gospel. It is the outgrowth of the gospel. It cannot be allowed to replace the gospel. Church history also shows that overriding the gospel with justice issues is not only a mistake, it curtails the impact of both.

Any attempt at social justice minus the gospel would lead only to a man-made Utopia which would be short-lived and riddled with injustice itself. God’s mission is fueled by His love. That same healing fuel energizes and propels us into a broken world. If we truly want to see the social order redeemed and morality restored, we had better get back to seeing people redeemed and restored. Reborn people then become tools of grace to rebuild the world.