Our youth pastor preached on Sunday and delivered a great sermon on the need for good works. His sermon struck a chord with me and reminded me of the deep division in the church which must be healed if we are to be all Christ needs us to be on this earth.
With Christ as Foundation, there are two elements of Christian Life: Personal Growth and Good Works. It seems to me that much of the church has split along these lines with each half focusing on one or the other of these elements.
The first branch I’ll call evangelical. It focuses on Personal Growth. It tends to be conservative, to vote Republican, to focus on evangelism and sanctification. It is fiercely anti-abortion and tends to be thought of as “holier-than-thou” and unfeeling toward social needs and justice. Some would identify this as “white” Christianity. In John 3:16 this branch focuses on “whosoever.” Salvation and Christianity is considered more personal than universal.
The other branch focuses on social justice, good works, if you will. It tends to be politically liberal. It gets behind social movements: civil rights, gay rights, etc. It tends to be pro-choice. It is often identified as the “black” Christian Church. In John 3:16 the focus is on “the whole world.” Salvation is often though of in universal rather than personal terms.
It is sad that Christianity has divided along these lines. I see these elements come together only rarely. In fact, the only place I see it is in prison ministry. That ministry excites the evangelical thread of the conservative Christians and the social justice thread wound in liberals. It’s wonderful to see these two completely different branches come together in these rare works of ministry. During these times the participants from both sides are careful to avoid talking politics or certain deep theological issues. Instead they focus on loving the unloved and listening and watching as Jesus changes hearts.
To my way of thinking it is crucial that these divergent branches find ways to communicate and come together more often in the cause of Jesus. I think both sides recognize that time is short and the return of Jesus can’t be far off. The world desperately needs to see the church united and being all that Jesus calls us to be providing foundation for personal growth and a life of good works as well.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to fall on all of Jesus’ church and to bring unity of purpose under the banner of Jesus. Nothing else will work.