The Third Choice
The Christian social justice advocates present two choices:
1. Preach only the Gospel thereby ignoring human physical needs in favor of eternal spiritual need of salvation.
2. Make a difference concerning the injustice of human suffering in a way that makes the Gospel relevant to physical life here and now.
The choice—presented that way—makes the decision clear. Unless you want your message to be irrelevant to 99% of your life on this earth, you should choose social justice as your focus. It makes a strong case for social justice. After all, who wants their message to be irrelevant? Who doesn’t want to see change in the world we live in?
The error is in presenting only two options. There is a third.
The third option is the focus on growing a redeemed person into a love walking, Spirit-empowered follower of Jesus. The first option focuses on the after life. The second option focuses on the mission. The third option focuses on the individual.
The Salvation Only (#1) option is too limiting. The Bible does not separate the spiritual from the physical but sees the person as a whole. For instance, God is not only concerned with your inner peace, He would like for you to be able to eat also.
The Social Justice (#2) option is too task oriented and reduces Jesus to a middle-eastern social worker. It is as if social justice advocates read the great commission as “go into all the world and make all of life fair.”
The Individual Freedom (#3) option cultivates the person’s potential to live a God-directed life that can take the individual in any of a thousand directions to travel their unique path in life. Love-motivated, Spirit-empowered believers reach out to help people—not because of any perceived injustice—but simply because they care. That is enough reason for them. And in the end they make an impact, not based on the need of an external mission, but on the power of an internal transformation.
I vote for number 3.