Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:45-46 ESV
Today I hear Christians speaking against what they call the “social gospel”. The social gospel as they perceive it is of no value, because it focuses on helping others with “social issues”. You know things like; food, clothing, shelter, seeing to the needs of people. Yet, Jesus in Matthew 25 tells us whatever we do for others we do for him, and conversely whatever we don’t do for others we don’t do for him. I’m not sure how they reconcile their attitude toward helping others with what Jesus had to say.
Many believe all we have to do is present the gospel message, and let the world take care of the social woes surrounding us. Yet there are many of these same folks deeply involved in the politics of our country, believing whatever political stand they take will bring about the social changes that they want to see take place in our country. In other words voting in someone to work on social change for them. This is an interesting philosophy because, hired hands never really care all that much for the flock. “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” John 10:12,13 ESV
I think somewhere along the way they forget that Jesus himself saw to the “social” needs of others. Jesus fed people, he restored financial security, and saw to their physical and social needs as well. Why would we not go and do likewise. After all we are his disciples, aren’t we to pattern our lives after his?
Granted not every person we serve with the “social gospel” will come to Christ, but neither will all those that we preach the gospel to. We need to be at work sowing the seeds of the kingdom. We need to practice what Jesus preached and lived. Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” He wanted his followers to know how we treat each other is of great importance. He equates good treatment of others with obedience to the Law and the Prophets. He is saying that the purpose of the Law and the teaching of the Prophets was so that we would know how to treat each other as he would have us do.
Seeing to the “social needs” of others does not go against the teachings of Jesus. It exemplifies Jesus to the world. Helping others, helps them to see Jesus. We can share the gospel while we tend the needs of others, they need not be mutually exclusive.
© 2015 Leo J. Woodman