Social Action

<<efforts to change society>>

Social action endeavours to alter or modify current practices of society to bring about benefit. However, such actions can only be as good as the premises they are based on. Christians have good reason to be involved in activities that promote the Kingdom of God and its values. Activities that demean certain segments of society or fail to protect the weak and vulnerable are to be denounced.

Generally in caring for our society we should take responsibility for our environment and fellow citizens – remember the Golden Rule (Lk 6:31)! Rather than handouts, which can bring needed temporary relief but create dependency, a better long-term solution is hand-ups that provide opportunities for people to help themselves, thus bringing empowerment and hope. In the OT, gleaning was a type of welfare program. Israelite law demanded that the corners of the fields were not to be harvested and any stalks of grain dropped by the reapers were to be left for the poor people to glean for their own use (Lev 19:9, 23:22; Deut 24:19). These gleaners were not stealing; rather they were self-motivated and proactive to provide for their needs.

Jesus showed deep compassion for the poor, the sick, the dispossessed and the outcasts of society. He healed many and took care of their physical or emotional needs not just to alleviate their present ‘felt’ need but so they would turn to Him – the only one who could adequately take care of their spiritual needs. He was most concerned about

In what way am I helping to make                    the world a better place?

the state of their souls and preached the gospel of repentance from sin so they understood that their eternal destiny was far more important than their circumstances here on earth.

Social action should not be an end in itself, but rather a pathway to point people to Jesus.  While there are numerous ways to connect with people, to be effective it must appear to meet their perceived need. As people’s ‘felt’ or real concerns (as they view things) are attended to, you have built a ‘bridge’ to them, earning the right to speak into their lives in a friendly caring way about Jesus. Christians should be socially active to the extent God would have them do so, aware “If anyone . . . knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (Jas 4:17). As believers, we take the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go and so are to be salt and light in our home, on the job and in our communities – flavouring, challenging, and bringing the illumination of Jesus everywhere we can (Mt 5:13-16; 1 Cor 6:19,20).

To be truly whole people, the needs of the spirit, soul and body must be addressed. While those of the spirit have the most long-lasting implications, this is not to belittle the felt requirements in the other areas of our composite beings. There must be a sensible balance.

See also: authority (civil), community, consequences, culture, environment, golden rule, handout/hand-up, social gospel, society, welfare, wholeness, world-view.


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