The social concern of the church

The churches have a responsibility to awaken christians to practical social concern. Believers are to separatethemselves from ungodliness, but not to isolate themselves from society. They are to be the light of the world, working out their faith as responsible citizens.

John 17:15; 1 Cor. 5:10; Mat. 5:16.

The witness of the churches and of individual christians to the gospel is to be accompanied by good works. The love of Christ will constrain his people to share the burden of human need, giving hospitality, visiting the lonely and sad, and showing compassion to the wayward. Christ’s disciples are to be good neighbours.

Mat. 5:16; Titus 2:14; Mat. 25:35-46; 22:36-40; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:1; Gal. 6:10; James 1:26, 27.

Even in a Welfare State christians ought not to forsake this concern by leaving all such care to the authorities because, -apart from christianmotivation, social welfare can become mechanical and dehumanised. Christians should be encouraged, where suitable, to enter the professional aspects of social service, medical care, child welfare, mental health work, etc., whilst non-professional and voluntary work in hospitals, prisons, charities, etc., can provide opportunities for others. The same principle applies to themoral needs of society. Christians are to be the salt of the earth. Thismeans that, apart from any specific endeavour, their very way of life should hinder the spread of corruption. Our Lord mixed with publicans and sinners. He did not take part in their sin but rather confronted them with his compassionate Holiness. The preaching of the gospel itself ought to result in the abandonment of evil practices. The Law of God is held before men as his just requirements and as the only true basis for a healthy society. Since the civil authorities are responsible to God for their conduct of national affairs, believers are to bring biblical principles to bear on social and moral ‘problems, and apply them as far as possible. These principles include the extent and limit of the state’s authority, the citizen’s duty to the state, the questions of anarchy and civil disobedience, and matters of education, the punishment of crime, divorce, abortion, property, work and wages, etc. Christians who are magistrates, politicians,trade unionofficials or members of professional associations have God-given opportunities to exert a healthy influence on society as a whole.

Mat. 5:13; Acts 19:19; Rom. 13.