Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thinking About Christian Activism

Our American flavor of evangelical Christianity has often been characterized by take-the-world-by-storm activism. That's certainly been true in recent generations, whether in the politically-charged, issue-specific activism of Christian baby-boomers, or the socially-oriented, holistically-driven activism of Christian twenty-somethings. Though our faith must flow over into our world in public engagement, if we're not careful we'll begin to equate Christianity with our activism. In this regard, consider the wise words of Latin American Missiologist Samuel Escobar:

"Churches should certainly be concerned about health care, liberating the oppressed, inculcating civic virtue and feeding the hungry. But, other groups can do these things, too, and sometimes do them better than the church. What no one else can do is preach the gospel and offer people a place to worship God."

In ironic contrast to our often frenetic and guilt ridden, church-driven activism, William Burrows adds:

"I doubt that inner renewal [i.e. a focus on the gospel] will deter anyone from providing bread to the hungry. On the contrary, persons who can still their restless minds and repose in God's love are likely to be compassionate and concerned for justice."

What does a non-activistic, delighting and resting-in-the-gospel-of-God's-grace community of saints who trust in His power to change the world look like? I'm devoting the rest of my life to finding out.

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