So, someone objects to my using Luke 4:18-19 in a previous post to say that Jesus expects his followers to not only tell lost souls how to be saved but also to reach out in love to the hungry and homeless: “Scroll down to Luke 6:20 and you can see that Jesus was laying the foundation for the Sermon on the Mount. The ‘poor,’ the ‘brokenhearted,’ the ‘captives’ – these are spiritual conditions that he returns to in the Sermon. The Christian’s responsibility to evangelize should not be equated with social ministry. That’s the Social Gospel. The Democrats are working real hard to disguise their wolves with sheep’s clothing – hiding their socialist agenda in the language of faith. The Christian’s responsibility is to preach what Jesus preached: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.”
Where do I start? For one thing, I did not equate evangelizing with social ministry. Verbal witness is not optional. It cannot be replaced by “the ministry of presence.” For another, is mistrusting Democratic politicians any better an argument against social ministry than mistrusting Republican politicians would be for not sharing a verbal witness? Let’s put down the political baggage for a moment and just let the Scripture speak for itself.
So someone thinks Luke 4:18-19 doesn’t establish a Christian’s responsibility to engage in social ministry. And he is on Martin Luther’s side when it comes to James/Jacob being a “right strawy epistle,” so he isn’t very enthusiastic about the “orphans and widows” passage.
So listen to the words of our Lord himself about people who never helped the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or imprisoned: “’Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.’ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:45-46)
Interesting that the ones headed to hell call him, “Lord.” (v.44) Are they Christians? Not necessarily. I bet even unbelievers will call him “Lord” when they are standing before the “glorious throne.” But it’s clear that the ones going into “life eternal” did what might be called “social ministry,” and those who refused to help “the least of these” are headed to hell.
No amount of “Lord, Lord” is going to help someone who refuses to do the will of our Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21) Jesus is still going to want to know: “Why call ye me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)
No one should minimize our need to share a verbal witness. (A lot of us “conservative” Christians don’t actually do that very often either.) But righteousness isn’t just being a nice person. As concerned as we are about tithing and the verbal witness, we ought to be just as concerned about “weightier matters of the law” – like justice and mercy. (Matthew 23:23)