I want to share this message but want to take a different approach to the common definition of Social Gospel.
Many of you reading this message were directed to it via some form of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc.). The Gospel is being shared socially across the web via our desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Believers in Christ are “Sharing”, “Recommending”, “Re-tweeting” and “Liking” messages about our Savior. These simple actions republish the gospel to those people we are connected to in our virtual communities. The power of modern technology has allowed us to connect and communicate with each other regardless of location and has produced a powerful tool for sharing the good news about Jesus Christ.
I do not want to diminish the impact and importance of sharing things in our “Social Networks” but for many believers sharing in the “Social” world has eclipsed or replaced actually being social. For some, our social interaction is limited to our social networks. Many people find it truly challenging to actually connect with people and develop real and sincere friendships.
God created each of us with a soul. It has been taught by many that our soul is comprised of our mind, our will and our emotions. It is this part of our being that we use to connect to the people around us. It is in our connections with others that we are able to share the love of Christ; living the gospel before the world.
When we receive Jesus Christ we are adopted into the family of God. We are members of the body of Christ. We have been granted citizenship in heaven. We are connected to Christ and through that connection to Christ we are connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
People connecting with other people – that is my simple definition of being social.
Here are the “official” definitions for the word “Social”
- Relating to society
- Relating to interaction of people
- Living in a community
- Offering opportunity for interaction
The gospel was spread through public events like Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in the early church and through large group events. The church also grew significantly from believers living out the Social Gospel. Let’s take a look at Acts, chapter 2:
The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. A feeling of fear came over everyone as many amazing things and miraculous signs happened through the apostles. All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other. From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it. The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group. (Acts 2:42-47 GW)
Throughout the centuries the church has turned from the natural, social gospel of Acts 2 into a formal, organized group of believers who assemble together for “church”. We have made the primary means of experiencing worship, teaching, preaching and even prayer the weekly worship service. We have somehow become spectators in the body of Christ who volunteer for planned ministry events within our churches. We have become dependent upon an organizational structure to share Christ’s love and gospel with the world.
The modern model of the church is very different model than what is portrayed for us in the Book of Acts and throughout the Epistles. Many churches seem to primarily exist to support the ministry gift of the pastor or leader of the congregation. Now, before you read what I did not write, let me clarify by saying the church should support the ministry gifts of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor & Teacher that have been given by Jesus Christ for the edification of His body. However, the primary calling of these ministry gifts to the body of Christ is to edify, train and encourage the believers they serve to fulfill the call of God upon their lives (i.e., their part in the Great Commission). There is greater potential to impact the world for Jesus Christ residing in the people who fill our pews than there will ever be in the ministry gifts standing in our pulpits.
Everyone in the body has a vital role to play. The believers who are not employed in fulltime Christian ministry have been placed by God to strategically and socially share the gospel with more unbelievers than any awesome pastor will ever have the opportunity to reach through his messages and ministry. For many churches they have a really BIG head supported by a weak and emaciated body. It is definitely time for the ministry of the believer to once again come to the forefront of why the church exists. We have a world that is literally lost and dying without Christ and, it is the mandate & mission of every believer (you and me included) to share the gospel. It is time to make our faith social. It is time to live Christ before the world, and share with them the hope, grace, power, joy, peace, love, etc., that has been freely given to us through our Savior.
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NLT)
My point in this message is that the Gospel is social and being social is a natural part of being a human being. It is natural for us to hang out with people, to have meals with people, to share experiences with people. Living the social gospel involves being Christ-like in our daily lives.
- Devoting ourselves to learning the scriptures, to prayer and to obeying the Word of God
- Sharing the gospel where you live, work, eat, play, & learn.
- Helping people with the things that they need
- Supporting the fivefold ministry gifts in their calling
- Earning the goodwill of the people surrounding us through good works and upright living.
- Consistently adding new believers to our circles of fellowship
So…we have a Biblical mandate before us that requires many of us as Christians to take our faith and devotion to a new level. We can be like the Christians of Acts 2. We can share our faith from house to house, from cubicle to cubicle and even from restaurant to restaurant. We can live the gospel and see it spread socially. The power of the Holy Spirit is in our lives so that we may give witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the primary venue for spreading the gospel is outside of our weekly worship services.
Love your church. Love your pastor. Love the leaders that God has placed in your life. Allow their ministry to feed you, to edify you, to encourage, provoke and propel you to fulfill the call of God upon your life.
There is power in living the Christ-like life for the world to see. My encouragement to you is to allow that which God is doing in your life to be a platform for you to share your faith from. Live the gospel and I know the Lord will use you to reach people with His love and power.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:13-16 NLT)