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It Depends Where You Start

I recently had a conversation with someone who said his pastor thinks justice and mercy are downstream of the main elements of the preaching of the Gospel. My thought was that it depends where “upstream” is and what you think is at the heart of the Gospel. I think most pastors assume that mercy ministry is an add on, that what we need to do is preach the Gospel in the understanding of the Reformed Faith, and then as we gather disciples and train them they will mature into Christians who begin to practice mercy and do justice. What is interesting to me of course is how seldom that works out to be true. How seldom does it seem that believers really mature into merciful people and those who practice justice (I’m not saying they aren’t nice people or pious in many ways). It seems to me that our problem in the Evangelical middle class world is that we keep getting more Bible study while we live to maintain the status quo in our lifestyles. Where is the radical explosion of faith? Yes, there are some who catch it, but it doesn’t seem to be “mainstream.” What is upstream ought to be what is Biblically mainstream and how can anyone claim to be Biblically mainstream and preaching the “whole counsel of God” if they are not proclaiming the character of God, that of justice and mercy, and his love for the poor and his making the poor his target for the Gospel, and the glory of reconciliation between God and man and people to people and exhorting them to do that which pleases God (and he has shown us what that is), but to love mercy, act justly and to walk humbly with their God? I’m just asking here. I don’t think the Gospel is just a salvation formula so we can get people saved, I believe it is a rebirth into a new life committed to the Kingdom and Lordship of God in all areas of life and that as his character overwhelms us we begin to be more like him. As long as these things are considered downstream, so our Gospel will be anemic, hah, even watered down.

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