A Mission Diverged
December 3, 2012
"Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” This phrase has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi as often as its original source is debated. Regardless who said the words, the idea behind them comprises the missional vision of many Christians today. It has become a modern motivator for those taking a stand to fight the social injustices of the world—and rightly so.
But this mantra also betrays a tension that has long troubled Christians as they seek to live out God’s mission in a hurting world. Is the communication of the Gospel native to words or action? If evangelism and social justice are equal parts of our Christian responsibility, why does it often feel like they’re at odds? Why do we talk about them as separate tasks? And in a world of overwhelming human need, is it better to hand out free rice bowls or Bibles?
In a world of overwhelming human need, is it better to hand out free rice bowls or Bibles?
These are the questions we’ve asked ourselves as we put together this issue of Reject Apathy. For the past few years, we’ve dedicated the magazine to exposing five realms of global injustice: loss of innocents, creation care, preventable disease, poverty and violence. But woven through all of these issues is the hope that those affected by these injustices will come to know the One who is able to save both the body and the soul.
There can be no doubt about it—the world is in desperate physical and spiritual need. Evangelism and social action stand ready to do something about it. But first, to be fully equipped for the work at hand, we must understand where the two meet.