Social action and the Gospel
Throughout the Bible we see God giving value and care to humanity and the expectation for his people to do likewise. The law gives practical details on what this should look like, including provision for the poor, care for the deaf and blind and love for strangers.
The prophets show God’s anger at those who fail to live this out and be a people reflecting God’s goodness to surrounding nations. In the gospels we see Jesus demonstrating and ultimately giving what is required by laying down his life to save us. Such sacrificial love awesomely displayed at the cross is something we also see throughout Jesus’ ministry. Jesus preached the gospel to people as individuals, knowing their hearts whilst caring for the needs around them. You find him spending time with the sick, the poor, the alienated and the despised, to name a few. He responds to each individual, providing for present needs as he tells them about the ultimate good news. It’s no wonder you find such love and devotion to Jesus in response, like the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears, amazed at forgiveness and love - not just spoken but demonstrated.
Fast forward to us now, the body of Christ on earth, called to proclaim and love in our Master’s footsteps. What does this mean for us and what we do as a Christian Union? Why not look and ask God to show you the genuine needs of people on campus, real ways you can show love, ways that perhaps go beyond the short term litter picking, washing up, etc. I wonder if rephrasing the question helps – ‘As a CU on campus will you really love your neighbour?’
Looking out for ‘foreigners in your land’ easily translates to caring for international students, taking time to give directions, set up bank accounts, go shopping. But will you take the next step and open your home to them, invite them for a meal, invest in real friendship? In the context of a genuine loving friendship that models Jesus’ love are they not more likely to listen to and see the Good News? The call is quite radical, it asks for your time and energy in practically laying down some of your social life for others.
What about the ‘loner’ on the corridor, the ‘weirdo’ on your course, the one people avoid because they have nothing in common or because they look or smell different? The so-called ‘social lepers’. Doesn’t that ring gospel bells when we recall Jesus’ reaction to physical lepers - wasn’t he the one person who spent time with them, touched them, loved them and saw their dignity as people and need for God above the way the world saw them?
The homesick student, the impressionable student, the constant drunk, the wild party student, the soup slurper student that no one wants to live with next year. Will we live and speak for Jesus? Will we really love our neighbour as ourselves?
That’s how Jesus boiled the commandments down for us isn’t it? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself.
Agreed, the most loving thing we can do is tell them about Jesus, but is it loving if we are just interested in making sure we’ve said it or in living it out, seeing beyond the masks, loving them as people, made by God, taking an interest in them as we let them know the hope we have?
Remembering the awesome love of Christ is the only thing that can drive us to love in radical ways in challenging circumstances. Only by his power can we do this. But what a great way to bring glory to God in all we do and to shine like stars for him!
Abi Gallagher is a Christian Union Staff Worker in London