Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:20
Advocating social justice from the pulpit is sweeping American pulpits and churches in the West. This term or concept that has wriggled its way into evangelical churches may be somewhat minor here, than what it is in America, but never the less it is here and increasing its intensity.
So what is this concept of social justice from the church all about? It simply boils down to a shift in the mission of the church. It is a move a foot that focuses on redeeming, correcting and rectifying cultural injustices in order to display Christ and the gospel.
For example I read of a church the other day that held a street march with banners stating they were sorry to the LGBT movement for the way the church had treated them. Or in America the hype over there from pulpits is a renewed push for equality for black Americans. I have also noted here in Australia, how some churches have adopted a shift in their evangelistic focus by sympathizing and speaking out against certain cultural indignities. Whether it is saying “sorry” to the LGBT movement as cited above, or to the indigenous people for wrongs of the past, the shift in addressing cultural injustice is evident.
Now, all these cultural issues and many more are real and unjust to say the least.
But the question is: Is the church under orders to rectify social issues as part of its missional mandate? My understanding on this is, primarily, no! It seems clear that the gospel needs declaring to sinners so that one by one, they might come to Christ in faith. Unjust social issues can be righted as a result of the gospel making an impact on individuals, and so it should, but ‘saying sorry’ or speaking out against social injustices will not in itself communicate God’s saving power in the gospel. We must never lose the focus of declaring man’s need of a Saviour in Jesus Christ alone.
I like Tim Chester puts this: If we do not keep people’s eternal plight in mind, then immediate needs will force their way to the top of our agenda, and we will betray the gospel and the people we profess to love. The most loving thing we can do for the poor is to proclaim the good news of eternal salvation through Christ. [Grace quotes]