We have heard for years a very subtle distinction between Christians (or some types of Christians) and other people like politicians, economists, aid workers, etc... The idea goes that Christians help "spiritual" suffering while other people help "practical, this worldly" suffering. Essentially, preaching the gospel seemingly is made to be irrelevant to an economic crisis, to solving marital problems, educational reform, war, raising kids, pregnancy, and other "real life" problems. This blog (we hope) helps put that myth away. It is a godless myth that perhaps most(?) Christians subtly fall prey to. Consequently, Christians allow sharing the gospel to be minimized and even trivialized.
First of all, the preaching of the gospel is the most practical, long term means of alleviating suffering here and now, not just with respect to eternity. How? The ways are too numerous; let's just think about the recent American and world economic crisis.
When the gospel is preached, God changes human hearts forever. When the heart is changed, a person's life is radically changed; not only that one life but those around him or her. As people continue to spread the gospel into entire families and communities, entire segments of society and generations thereafter are radically altered. Family and social bondage is broken. What happens when the heart is changed?
The truly changed, Christian heart does not love money, thus does not live in such a way that the loss of investments takes away his peace and joy. The free, Christian heart gladly relieves others financial burdens by giving money away in these times. The transformed heart does not long for retirement because her hope is heaven and her desire is productive labor for Christ all the days of her life. This heart does not grow more anxious about the destination of the market than the that of the souls around them. Christians in business seek to work with integrity, not wanting to scam the system for the sake of the next promotion. The Christian heart is motivated to work harder, longer, and wiser in order to find new solutions to relieve human suffering, whether this means solving scientific, business, and economic problems or by offering the sweat of our brow and the use of our skills in order to help people through tough financial times. Resources like homes, cars, clothes are freely shared as in the book of Acts. It is an irony that so many of us continually lament the loss of our portfolios even while we enjoy the leisure of reading this and other blogs, even while children in Ethiopia are hoping to survive the week for lack of food. This economic crisis is an opportunity for Christians to magnify the worth of Christ's gospel. How shall we then live?
With each and every problem, the motivations of the Christian heart, the new desires embedded in the renewed mind address suffering in practical ways for generations to come. Mere political and financial strategizing alone only relives the pain for a season, if at all. We must ask ourselves whether we believe in the power of the gospel, whether we truly love other people, and whether we are truly taking the wisest, practical approaches in abolishing evil in the world. Let us preach the gospel to ourselves and our neighbors.