Monday, 13 July 2020 08:51

Should We Preach the Gospel or Deal with Social Issues?

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Jesus' public ministry didn't last long, but it was action-packed. He healed the sick, preached the Gospel, upset the religious establishment, and said many confounding things.

On one occasion, Jesus is hanging out with His disciples at a friend's house. A prostitute barges in uninvited and pours an expensive perfume all over his feet (Mark 14:3-4). 


His followers are confused, and even a little annoyed. Why would she waste all of this costly perfume, when it could've been sold and the money given to the poor? 


It seems like a valid question, right? 


Jesus' response is a little shocking. He says, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful deed to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." 


What does this mean? Was Jesus indifferent to the plight of the poor? 


Far from it. 


A little digging reveals that when Jesus made this statement, he was quoting the book of Deuteronomy. Which says this:


"If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. For the poor, you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)


Jesus wasn't advocating indifference to poverty; He was reinforcing a truth so familiar to Jews that there was no need to provide context - of course, you take care of the poor!


What was less obvious was that Jesus' time on earth was short, and intimacy with Him is never a waste! 


The problem is we make it a "zero-sum game." I either care about social issues or I preach the Gospel. Jesus never made that distinction, and neither should we.  


What Christian dad shares the Gospel with his kids, but doesn't feed them, clothe them, or take them to the doctor when they're sick? Jesus cared about all of life, and commanded us to do the same. 


Next time someone asks you whether we should preach the Gospel or deal with social issues, answer "no." 

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is the Director of Come&Live! and is the younger son of David and Jodi Pierce. Come&Live!’s vision is to create a worldwide mission community that will provoke and inspire Christian artists to use their God-given creativity to revolutionize the world for Jesus.
Instagram: @nzbenpierce
Twitter: @benalanpierce

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