Monthly Archives: July 2014
A Welfare Gospel?
We have all heard about the ‘health and wealth gospel’, and we have been aware of its pitfalls. Its main problem is to interpret different genres of the Bible as prescriptive and to claim all of them as promises of God, even though it is clear that certain genres like Proverbs are never meant to do so. Our faith, thus are not and should not be hinged on the outcomes of whether we are healthy or wealthy as a result.
As much as we are aware of the ‘health and wealth gospel’, we must also be increasing careful of what I call the ‘welfare gospel’. We understand very well that the Gospel from from our Lord Jesus Christ is a whole gospel. It does not just address the spiritual aspect of our lives, but also the physical, social and even economical aspects of life. Basically, Jesus met the people at their points of need. However, we also know that Jesus never stopped there. He would then move on to meet their spiritual needs. This is the whole gospel ministering to the whole person. While it is commendable that the church today are engaging more in social services, we must be careful that it is not an end to itself. By observations, the church is winning more converts through social services than friendship today. This poses a new challenge for us too. More people are coming to church because of certain benefits that they received. If the church fail to move these people from their physical needs to spiritual needs, these people would end up treating God like an ATM machine. They would always be making demands in the church rather than learning to give and serve. As a result, the church may be constrained by this ‘welfare gospel’ they are offering.
It is therefore vital for the church to disciple this group properly. We must disciple them to move from need-centred to Christ-centred. We need to be careful not to be too caught up with serving them that they continue to live their old lives. As much as the church is doing well with their social services, let us keep our focus to make these services a godly one. Never forget that our purpose is to make disciples and not just doing good.
Are We Driven?
We live in a busy world and the bad news is that we are going to get busier further down the road. In the past people thought that they can have a good rest when they retire, but now they still have to work their guts out even when old. Probably they can only stop when they enter their graves. The situation is not better in the church either. Rather than being a place of solitude and spiritual rest, the church has become very much like the working world. It is driven by results, sizes, strategies and techniques. We have become the ones who engineer her success rather than God. In the past, the pagans brought along their beliefs and practices into the church when the whole Roman Empire ‘converted ‘. Today, we also bring the things of this world to manage and run the church. That’s why we are seeing many ‘CEOs’ in the church. The church is corporatized. The church is marketed like a product.
Not that we should not learn from the world or should not adopt things from the world. I think we should and even move on to contextualize and adopt the things of this world to win the lost, but we must be careful of building our own Babel. Though seemingly more spiritual on the outside, the Lordship of Christ is being eroded gradually and subtly. We can be known for being alive but we might be dead on the inside.
We need to strengthen what has remained. We need to let go of our drivenness which so often has resulted in burn outs. We need to forsake that competitive spirit that tend to compare with one another. We need a humble spirit dependent on God rather than try to prove our own ability. It’s time that we fully surrender ourselves to God.