Leadership, family, theology and world events
The recent events in Ukraine reminded me of a sad reality: when new social issues are hitting our community or are heard on nightly news, we Christians are often going either apathetic or getting hijacked by worldly philosophy of how to resolve the issue.
I am not sure what makes Christians apathetic when the real social issue is too obvious to ignore. Issues like xenophobia, slavery, racism, family abuse, government corruption, and poverty are too big and too obvious not to see; yet many Christians and ministers are pretending this isn’t on the news or not in our “back yard”. The elephant is in the room, but nobody is acknowledging it.
Yet, even if some one does, the solution often is too “spiritual”. “Let us pray for…”, you can insert anything: the hungry, Jews in death camp, corrupt government, etc., when we are able to do other things as well.
The guy on the road to Jericho needed physical help, not just a prayer; unfortunately the priest and Levite were too spiritual to perform social work. James in James 2:14-17 is warning about fake spirituality: “14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Feeding the hungry or helping the poor is not a social Gospel, it is the Gospel. As well as, hiding a Jew during the Holocaust, raising your voice against corrupt government, or social injustice.
Yet, it is not the full Gospel. Jesus was healing sick, feeding hungry, and freeing women from social injustice. He didn’t ignore their physical or physiological needs, but He was taking care of their eternal needs too. There is a big delusion among intellectuals, common people and some Christians alike,that if you change circumstances you will change people. In the western world one idea persists for a long time despite of all the evidence of being utopian. Intellectuals believe that people in their nature are good, but what makes them bad is social injustice, poverty, and ignorance. So, for decades there has been put a great effort in education, welfare, law, and government improvement. I cannot say that there are no results, but at large, people are the same. They are not any better, if not worse, than they were 50 or 100 years ago. Last century, the century of new enlightenment, the century of improved living conditions,- experienced more cruelty and death than any other. Why?
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
But the message that out heart is so corrupted cannot be popular, can it? No, we prefer to believe that we are good, and external factors are to blame for our actions. If only we can deal with poverty, change other people, or a government, become more educated (read enlighten). People are getting shocked and discouraged because it doesn’t work, but still refuse to admit to the obvious: it is our hearts.
I believe we have to do what we can to change the system, provide for the physical needs of those who need it today. But if it is all that we do, we are falling short. And we and other people will be soon disappointed. Remember the Orange Revolution in Ukraine? Some people had big expectations, others believed it was a Western conspiracy. Eventually the first were disappointed while the second group was enjoying the failure of “Orange once”. But, I think both missed the point. Yes, there is a better political system and there is a worse one, there is a better president and there is…well, the former bandit, but without changing hearts, even a better government will not irradiate the problems of our corrupt human nature. If we all put all our hopes in Europe, in new government, etc., but not on God, we will be disappointed again and again. It is not enough to free a nation from the corrupted government, the final goal is to free people from their own corrupted hearts.
I am worried about the theology of the Maidan: “God speaks through the citizens”, “God is on our side and against them”. Really? Like common people really do not give bribes, don’t cheat on their wives, and don’t steal from work. Just because “they” are worse, it doesn’t make “us” saints or God’s prophets. God cares about injustice, but He wants to change the hearts of those who are on EuroMaidan even more.
I am praying that Ukraine will get a better president, a better government, better police force, but I think it is dangerous to trade the Full Gospel for a social Gospel. The Full Gospel does include a social part, but is not limited to it. It also speaks about the primary need of everyman: Jesus who is the Savior. The One Who changes a man’s heart, so through that changed heart will be a change in the system, the government, and everything else.