Text: John 13:34-35, Acts 2:46; 34:32-37
What would the repercussions be if you loved other children more than you loved your own? What would your children say of you? Would they consider you a hypocrite? What if you bought or gave things freely to other people, while those in your own home went hungry or were suffering? What would your family think of you? Would they consider you to be a good steward over them? What would be the eventual outcome of those, in your own house, whom you are neglecting?
In his book, “The Mark of a Christian”. Francis Schaeffer makes a big deal of John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” I agree with Schaeffer’s conclusion that, having love for one another is certainly a distinguishing mark of the Church.
This message might create some controversy because of what I am about to say, but I hope it moves us to a place of balance in our practice as Christians, both as advocates of justification by faith and as agents of justice.
No doubt, a reading of the above bible passages, a reading of James and many other places in scripture, you will discover a clear correlation between justification by faith and being agents of justice. In other words, when God saves you, he saves you to do good works which he has prepared in advance for us to do.
Here’s where I might start to add tension to our thought. Let’s look at those texts.
1. We must be agents of justice, first in the household of God
This was how the early church practiced justice. Whenever the members of the house had a need, those who were in a position to help, helped. We are quick to be agents of justice to those outside the church while those inside are suffering. In the twenty first century this might win the downtrodden to church but a few years down the line they are treated the same way. Bringing an end to injustice must start in the household of God. If we brought injustice to an end in God’s house, we will be strengthening God’s children to reach out more effectively and with greater efficiency.
2. People are attracted to the house when they see injustice in God’s house dying
Acts tells us that thousands were added to their numbers. God’s house is a haven of hope. People are attracted to the cross when they see saved people loving each other unconditionaly. The problem today is, the church wins the poor through its benevolent acts only to bring them within its walls to neglect them. The church must continue to finish the work of justice that it began. When injustice prevails in the church, it is a travesty of the greatest proportions.
I am not advocating that we stop mercy and compassion ministries to those outside the church, instead, I am saying let’s spend some time and resources to bring healing and justice to those already in the household. You never know how the church might become an attraction if you do.
I look forward to any dialogue this perspective would surface.