Grace for a Broken World I

Pray for the World

Christie Thomas makes a spiritual practice of something I’ve long thought should be a spiritual practice. And while it isn’t my own practice, I wish it had more exposure. Ms. Thomas’ days begin with newspaper reading and prayer over world crises. There is plenty for which to pray. Ms. Thomas lists these points.

We have unstable world leaders with fingers too close to weapons of mass destruction.

We have terrorist cells scattered everywhere, caring for no one except their need to destroy others and bring in their own versions of “heaven” with them as kings and rulers.

We have grinding poverty shoving hard-working people face-down to the barren ground.

We have an over-sugared world exploding the epidemic of metabolic diseases, the most common being diabetes.

We have political leaders who have no concept of the common good, driven instead by personal ambition and a need to take down the “other,” whomever that may be.

Ms. Thomas’ post also observes that:

And we have a Christian church that . . . well, it does do a lot of real good, but primarily turns inward on itself, arguing over minutia, seeing its own power plays and back-room dealings.

Poverty [including food insecurity and public health] and political failure [the erosion of democracy and rise of militant extremism] are grave issues. They work injustice and havoc worldwide.

And the church? It does do much good. Years ago, I learned that the Seventh Day Adventists maintain a world-class flying hospital that can land anywhere on earth within 24 hours.

Yet many church bodies do spend reserves on minutia. Others deem kingdom life as a distraction or heresy. Darrin Yeager notes that 1Co 15:1-4 sums the gospel in terms of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Then he adds:

‘Strange. No mention of social justice, or regulating inputs and outputs; Paul must have been negligent in failing to mention the heart of the Gospel.’

1Co 15:3-4 was a very early church creed. With resurrection being denied, [1Co 15:12ff], Paul very reasonably replies with 1Co 15:3-4. Does that make Jesus’ death and resurrection a case against kingdom justice? Hardly. And what Mr. Yeager says Paul ‘neglected’ to ‘mention,’ Peter proclaims freely in Cornelius’ house:

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him’ [Ac 10:38].

Peter weaves kingdom life with Jesus’ death and resurrection into a seamless narrative [Ac 10:39-43].  It is bookmarked on both ends by the Spirit’s presence and power  [‘anointing with the Holy Spirit…God was with him’ (v. 38) cf. ‘the Holy Spirit fell on them’ (v. 44)]. There is no Gnostic kingdom/gospel dichotomy here. Nor should there be with us.

 

6 thoughts on “Grace for a Broken World I”

  1. Living in Colombia for seven years was really good for my prayer life! I often pray through the headlines on CNN or in my local paper. It also gives much-needed perspective to some of the topics we give so much press to here in the USA.

  2. Hmmmm I can see some of Mr. Yeager point that social justice can take too much of an important. However, to say that it is a false gospel is to fail to see all that Jesus spoke about and did in his 3 years of ministry. I mean what else are you to make of feed the multitude with bread and fish, and he clearly rebuked his disciples when they suggest that was the people’s individual problem. I see the argument of “the gospel is not about or include social justice.” As a view of Western European/American thinking of the industrialization/gilded age. An a cop out to helping others and being self righteous (dare I say selfish?) Of course this view and way of thinking is the lens that many American a Western Christians interpret the bible through. We forget that the bible was written in a mid eastern culture and that they very much knew that they were suppose to take care of social justice issues. This is why I believe Jesus focus so much on healing and helping the down and out. 1) To point out to the “religious” their sin they had failed to care for other and were self righteous saying look look we have obeyed the laws. 2) To show that everyone was equal under the eyes of God. The poor were just as important as the rich man. Ok I will stop rambling now.

  3. I see it as 1) here is what we BELIEVE: Jesus Christ, crucified and risen again, etc. and 2) here is what we DO (show His love to those around us).

    In Gal. 2:10, Paul speaks of how the leaders of the church in Jerusalem talked to him about his qualifications for church leadership and found him acceptable, but he clarified this: “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” So Yeager may think it’s not important or essential, but James, Peter, and John seemed to think it was.

    1. Agreed.

      Without “social” there is no “gospel.” Christ did not come for a individuals. He came for us all, corporately. The bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ. We are to “love one another.”

      There is no room for selfish individualism in the church.

  4. I love the verse you included from Acts about how Jesus “went about doing good.” When Christians emphasize only the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and fail to understand his earthly life and ministry, they fail to understand who Jesus really is and fail to show his love to the world. They say, “Jesus died for you — now don’t you want to trust him as your savior?” But why would anyone want to trust Jesus if they don’t know who he is? If they don’t see his love and compassion?

    Plus, many western Christians have forgotten the part of the “great commission” where Jesus says “teaching to observe all things that I have commanded you.” They have forgotten that the Jesus who said these words is the same Jesus who told the story of the Good Samaritan, preached the sermon on the mount, healed the woman with the issue of blood, wept at the tomb of Lazarus with Mary and Martha, overturned the tables of the money changers, called out the pharisees for their hypocrisy, fed the hungry, commended the widow who persistently begged the unjust judge for justice, blessed the little children, and talked about millstones in reference to those who hurt little children.

    Reading the four gospels has been so refreshing and healing for me.

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