A Theft in the Church

A theft has taken place. Something has been stolen from the church. But this was no violent act of robbery. The doors and windows were left open. In fact, a welcome sign was put out to the thieves. After the first theft, the rest of the goods were conveniently put on the front porch so as not inconvenience the thieves. What was stolen? The church’s calling to be an agent of social justice in the world. Who stole it? The thieves are those who gave up on a supernatural Gospel in exchange for a message of mere social change. Those who reacted to these “social gospellers” didn’t put up much of a fight; instead they freely allowed these modernists to steal the rest of the calling. Then the government, with its cosmic-sized ego, thought it could do the social justice calling more effectively than the church by perpetrating unjust means to take care of the poor. The church abdicated. It rolled over. After all, we are about the Gospel and saving souls, not social justice. Funny, the Prophets and Apostles never thought there was a distinction between justice and grace. In fact, it seemed that they were under the silly notion that true religion manifested itself in taking care of widows and orphans (Isa. 1:16-18; Jas. 1:27). Obviously, they never lived on a cul-de-sac in a suburban neighborhood. What was stolen from us was something which is part of the image of God in us, compassion, mercy and justice. What was stolen from us was a larger vision of righteousness, which fed the hungry, clothed the naked and stood against oppression (Matt. 25:31-46; Jas. 5:1-6; 1 Jn. 3:16-18).

I am very thankful for those who are rightfully taking back what belongs to us, without giving up the treasure of the Gospel. I am thankful for Justice Fellowship, the International Justice Mission, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, among others. I am also thankful for our Community Pregnancy Center and the City of Refuge, which fight against the evil of abortion and fight for life and the truth of the Gospel. I am thankful for Anna, ministering mercy in the Sudan, to bodies and souls.

As I have been studying the problem of evil for men’s retreat, I have realized afresh that the message of God’s grace cannot leave us only interested in a person’s soul. Can we really be indifferent to the physical condition of a 5 year old Cambodian girl who serves as a sex slave in a brothel to western pedophiles? Is it good enough to just make sure she gets a tract? May God help us to recover the calling which has been stolen and hi-jacked by those who do not know the power of God unto salvation. May we be known by what the Lord requires of us, “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Mic. 6:8).

Pastor Brian