How can the Christian Church genuinely work for justice (not just talk about it!) without undermining or diluting evangelism? The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization event, convening 4,000 evangelical leaders from 200 countries, will address issues including poverty, HIV/AIDS, consumerism, and child sex trafficking. TGC asked Ray Ortlund for his suggestions on balancing evangelism and justice. His answer is re-posted below. Most conservatives are so focused on the primacy of evangelism that issues of justice and mercy are often neglected. Ortlund’s answer confronts this imbalance.
It’s a good question. But I would also ask, “How can Christians neglect the work of justice in the world without undermining evangelism?” And I am not thinking only of our credibility in human eyes. I am thinking of God. He said to us in Isaiah 58:9-10:
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
He also quotes Jonathan Edwards to re-enforce that acts of justice and mercy have “a greater tendency to bring the God of love down from heaven to earth“.
The acts and messages of justice and evangelism are interdependent not opposed or contradictory.
Social justice and spiritual power are bound together by Christ himself.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8 (NIV)