There is an epidemic that has been going on for a while now. It is one of the saddest things that can consume a person—the social gospel. This happens when people take the glorious news of Jesus dying for you and replace it with a social agenda. Christ came to reconcile us with God, not be used for a social agenda.
As we sit around discussing the ills of the world we need to remember, the gospel is the answer. So let's cease our pro-life efforts and protesting at abortion clinics. Our only concern should be ...
Do you see how ridiculous that sounds? Seriously, take that in and contemplate how absurd that request is in today's evangelical world. Yet, the first two paragraphs are exactly, what you hear if you exchange "our pro-life efforts and protesting at abortion clinics" with "racial reconciliation and ending racism." And it is totally absurd to pit the gospel of Jesus against confronting the sins of the world.
Make no mistake, when I mentioned the gospel—the uncut, no chaser, good-news of Jesus living and dying for you & rising for you—it truly is the answer. But it is a false dichotomy to pit caring for widows, feeding the poor, and racial reconciliation against it. This is a classic confusion between the two kinds of righteousness—a confusion between how we relate to God as righteous (vertical) and how we interact in the world as neighbors (horizontally).
When a person speaks out against abortion nobody assumes they are replacing Christ's work on the cross to redeem us with a new social gospel but for some strange reason this "mistake" happens when the subject of race comes up. I truly wonder why. Speaking for the oppressed is not about an attempt to earn justification (hence not a "social gospel"), rather it is believers loving their neighbor.
"If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" — James 2:15
What good is it?
What good is it to see a nation slaughtering babies in the womb and sit ideally by?
What good is it to see a group of people being demeaned or oppressed and just say que sera, sera?
Go on facebook or twitter and post a borderline "pro-choice" comment around your Christian community. Then try hinting at a few racist comments. This is not scientifically proven, but personal experience suggests that in evangelical circles you will get more push back for a pro-life comment.
One of the first push backs you get as a reason to ignore racism to their neighbor (they never bring up during abortion talks) from the pious & the grace groupies is "show me in the bible social issues being addressed." I'd submit that James talks about prejudices in James 2. I'd also submit the parable of the good Samaritan as addressing (on the side) the racism between Jews & Samaritans. I'd submit the Sermon on the Mount talking about the law. The main point in all of these passages is not social change, but to deny social injustice is part of the context is a bald face lie.
Although Sunday, the Lord's day, is the most segregated day of the week, we act as if racism/prejudice is not as big of an issue in the pews as the gay agenda or liberal agenda. Many pastors love to get in the pulpit and rail about those sins but ignore that their congregation looks like a Ku Klux meeting or the million man march. But I will go out on a limb, I don't care if any of these subjects is mentioned as part of the sermon if it fits into the text and the sermon points to Christ. An example on racism: A sermon on Jonah, can talk about his racist motives & how God saves who He wants—In Jesus there is no partiality because died for their sins and yours!
Whew ... I'm ready to get the organ fired up & ask the Pentecostals to do some cartwheels in the aisles. I get beside myself, though. Standing up for social issues does not justify you before God, only Christ does that. Concerns about the "social gospel" are real. I do not want to down play those concerns. But loving our neighbor & helping people in need is a holy thing and a very Christian thing, not a social gospel!
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Love, Grace, and Peace