Many of us have heard the term “the social gospel.” This is a term that has been coined to describe the idea that Christian evangelistic efforts, rather than simply just quoting John 3:16, should include providing food for the hungry, medical care for the sick, clothes for the needy, shelters for the homeless, and a voice for victims. The basic premise is that lost people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
And let’s get one thing straight: Jesus is about all those things and more. If you think He isn’t, you really need to go back and read the gospels again, this time looking for such subjects. However, what Jesus did was use His ministry efforts as a platform to literally open His mouth and ask the people who had received the help if they were willing to believe in Him as Messiah/Savior. In other words, He kept the main thing the main thing. The main thing was always the individual’s salvation, not the relief the individual received from the aid and comfort.
Unfortunately, here is where most (not all) modern efforts fail at following Jesus’ example. We Christians can build hospitals, staff soup kitchens, help the homeless, donate to clothing drives, and speak out against injustice, but our tendency is to stop short of actually speaking the gospel. For example, ask any pastor if he’ll get more volunteers to hand out backpacks for underprivileged school children or to go door to door sharing the gospel. I dare say that 100% of them will give you the same answer and it won’t involve a back-to-school item.
Again let me say that Christians should help those who need help. I’m not arguing otherwise. But if all we do is make this world a better place to go to hell from, we’ve missed the point completely. Therefore, we must press all our ministry efforts through to their logical conclusion: speaking the gospel to lost people and asking for a decision. Remember, Jesus didn’t say to His followers, “Go into all the world and do good things.” He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” That’s why we must always keep the main thing the main thing.