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.