I noticed something through your home page description and the social gospel question answered that makes me have a question for you: What do you do about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting sick and imprisoned? (Matthew 25:31-46) And what do you do about selling your possessions and giving to the poor (Luke 12:33) and the like scriptures? Are you talking institutionally or individually that you think a Christian shouldn't be as concerned about those things? I hope this isn't a silly question -- it's just that you seem to say that it's wrong for the church to do those things because you should be only helping people spiritually, but Jesus specifically says to do those things. Can't you do both? Can't you show Christ's love through alleviating their hunger so they will be drawn to him? Thanks for the clarification.
"Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him"" (John 6:26-27).
Despite the repeated requests for food, Jesus did not feed the people this day. His reason? To attract people with material things will only gain people interested in worldly things.
Christians do good throughout the world in their daily life. "And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful" (Titus 3:14). I always smile when people ask, "Well, what do you do?" as if the only good that ever can be accomplished is through some big institution.
- For the past six months, I was at a young man's side who faced criminal charges beyond the crime that he had done. I went to the jail. I counseled him for literally hours each week after he was released on bail, stayed up to the early hours of the morning several times when he needed me, and sat through the entire jury trial with him. So did approximately a dozen other members of the church.
- When a young man called from the bus station asking for help because his bus was delayed and he had no food, I drove out, picked up a stranger, took him to Burger King, bought his meal, and drove him back to his bus station. I also made a new friend.
- I put in long hours answering people's personal questions and help them work through tough issues in their life.
- I've been worrying myself sick over someone I know who has fallen back into the trap of drugs, trying to get him back out -- including offering him a room in my home.
- I have had travelers stay at my house.
- I'm organizing a vacation for families who normally can't afford an extended vacation.
- I'm putting together a computer for a blind man's son because they can't afford one.
Would you like to list out what you've done in the last six months?
I don't enjoy listing out some of the things I've done in the last six months, but I'm giving you a glimpse of what most Christians take for granted is a normal part of serving Christ.
The error you are making is ignoring to whom God is commanding. There are things that God has told the church to do. There are things God has told individual Christians to do. Some of those things overlap. Some of those things are different. A Christian can no more relieve himself of his personal responsibility than the Pharisee. "He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" -- then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition"" (Matthew 15:3-6). Giving to the temple (or in our case the church) doesn't exempt a person from his obligations.
The home page points out that people are demanding of churches things which God never commanded churches to do, while at the same time not obeying God in doing their personal duties.
In Matthew 25:31-46, to whom was Jesus talking? Was he judging people or churches? Actually no church appears before Christ on Judgment Day. To a nearly dead congregation, Jesus stated, "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Revelation 3:4-5). Churches don't appear in the Book of Life, people do. You can't get into heaven riding on the coattails of other people in your church, nor can the sinners in your church keep you out of heaven. Judgment is based on what you, as an individual, had or had not done.
To whom was Luke 12:33 addressed? It was to individuals. James 1:27 is addressed to individuals.
There are some circumstances when the church is called on to get involved, but never to take away the responsibility of the individual. For example, "If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows" (I Timothy 5:16). The church is specifically told that only certain widows who meet strict qualifications were its responsibility (I Timothy 5:9-10). All other widows are the individual's responsibility.
It is the individual who shows Christ's love, not the church. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
What people are doing today is changing what God requires. God wants His people to be involved. Today, we think we can throw a few bucks at an institution, such as the church, and then pat ourselves on the back saying we've done as God required. God knows what He is doing when He laid out the boundaries of responsibility. It is man's duty to obey. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Thanks for the quick reply! I didn’t need or want a list from you (my “what do you do” meant in my head, “how do you interpret or understand”) but I appreciate your openness. I am in agreement with you, despite what you thought. and that’s why I put in my email “I hope this isn’t a silly question” because I was hoping that helping a hurting world was important to you. I had to clarify because the wording of stuff on the home page and the social gospel page (and not just yours but in other churches of Christ) comes across as if they aren’t. I see clearer now that you see it's not the church organization’s job but each follower of Christ. Amen to that. Although I do not see it as violating Scripture if a group of Christians does come together to “do good” on a larger scale, I do see, such as in my own church, that church programs of any type feed the spectator sport Christianity that is sadly so prevalent here in America. It is something that I’m fighting against too.
I have to say that I am tempted to list what I’ve done lately, but I will refrain. By the way, I don’t think your listing things was wrong, you were simply answering my question, but if I did it back to you, it would be wrong.