The Together for Adoption Conference officially kicked off this morning with a general session with Darrin Patrick (see bio below) on “The Church & Social Justice”.
Darrin taught based out of I John 3:16-18 demonstrates that we must live our lives both vertically (loving God) and horizontally (loving our neighbor) and in this there will be tension. (Ex: Christian freedom vs. wisdom; God’s sovereignty vs. human responsibility; self-discipline vs. grace)
It is first important that we nail our “gospel definition”. What is the gospel that we are called to proclaim? He gave his gospel definition but I can’t type fast enough for that. Sorry.
The tension exists in the balance. How do we proclaim the gospel and demonstrate the gospel most effectively.
Jesus had this same tension. His main ministry was preaching, yet over and over he came across those who needed healing. Sometimes he sought them out. Yet he was never so distracted by the needs of the people (physical) that he failed to meet their greatest need (spiritual).
We might ask someone “Do you know where you will go if you die tomorrow?” when their reality is that they are more worried about how they will “live” tomorrow.
Our cities need “word AND deed” ministries.
To care for the poor, marginalized and the helpless is not a part of the definition of the gospel, but it is a clear implication of the gospel.
So what is social justice? Darrin used Tim Keller’s components of social justice: service, mercy, justice, neighbors
- Christians are to humbly serve those who don’t have basic needs being met. Food, Shelter, Clothing, Education.
- Mercy, means moving toward the poor with a priestly, Christ-like compassion and concern.
- Biblical justice, includes meeting the basic, tangible physical needs of those who do not have them, as well as fighting systemic oppression that keeps physical needs from being met.
- Neighbors are not just those who look, spend, and think like we do. Neighbors are those near us.
- First and foremost, proclaim the gospel – it’s the most loving thing we can do.
- Not use social justice to avoid the offense of the cross. The gospel will always be offensive to those whose hearts are opposed to God. Promoting social justice as a remedy for our sin is not only theologically, biblically incorrect, it leads to utter disappointment for those who place their ultimate hope in cultural renewal.
- Churches should plant other churches in under-resourced areas. (New churches attract entrepreneurial leaders who will want to reach the city.
- The “institutional church” (the church most of us know – gatherings, sacraments, fellowship) must equip individuals who will become the “organic” church (individuals equipped with the gospel ready to live out the implications in real life). The individuals will often go on to form non-profits and other social and political reformation groups.
Darrin Patrick serves as lead pastor of The Journey in Saint Louis, Missouri, which he founded in 2002. Darrin also serves on the board of directors of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network as Vice President and is a regular contributor at the Resurgence. His passion is to help the church understand and live the gospel in the world. Today, The Journey runs eight services across four campuses and continues to aggressively plant new campuses and churches in the Saint Louis region and beyond. He recently finished two books: Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission, releasing in August 2010, and A Church for the City with Matt Carter. Darrin is married to his high school sweetheart, Amie, and they have four beautiful children: Glory, Grace, Drew, and Delaney. Darrin enjoys vacations with his family, basketball, good food, good books, good movies, and weightlifting.