Serve the Poor…Just Never Mind the Cross?

Just some rambling thoughts of mine while folding laundry and making soup today… thank God for minds that rise us above what can be mundane!

I do not profess to be a theologian, but I enjoy becoming more theologically literate.  I have noticed what people believe about God determines everything about their lives.  AW Tozer called this man’s “gravest belief”.  In following the recent elections and now preparing for the changing of the guards with Obama, it seems to me, the issue of theology is greater than ever.  

What troubles me is the greater theme, the theology if you will, behind Obama, a man whom on many fronts elecits my deep respect.  First, because he is made in the image of God and secondly because as a follower of Christ I am commanded to honor, submit to and pray for those in authority. I am also very moved by Obama’s genuine compassion for people and the issues that keep them down.  And no one can doubt his charisma and eloquence.

However, I do disagree with what seems to be his adherence to liberation theology.  In my understanding, this stream of theology emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, done with power through political activism.  Those who fall in line with this consider societal sin as being the root cause of poverty, and often see capitalism as a class war in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  They focus on the marginalized, specifically liberating minorities against generations of oppression. 

True enough, the New Testament instructs the Church to care for the poor.  Even in the Old Testament God demands this sort of justice. Some of the greatest institutions for charitable work such orphanages and hospitals, are fruits of obedience to this. Notice God mandated the Church, not the government to do this work. When Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church asked Obama what he thought the greatest moral failure of America was, he cited Scripture and replied that he thought the neglect of the poor was America’s greatest failure.  Obama desires to tax the rich to distribute to the poor and less privileged, spreading the wealth.  He sees political means and power as the deliverer to all those caught in poverty and oppression.  Bottom line in this sort of thinking: Salvation comes in setting up a utopia on earth. It is the belief that if we work hard enough, this can and will happen.

We can expect that under Obama, minorities of all kinds, such as the poor, homosexuals, women denied of their “reproductive freedoms” any minority interest group, and racial minority group will be elevated to an equal sense of treatment and unity, no matter the cost, the ethical or the societal considerations.  Any one opposing the beliefs and values behind these groups and their behavior will be silenced, labeled as racist or intolerant. Wow.

The troubling thing is the Church’s first mandate, before caring for the poor was to preach the gospel. Actually, these were to go hand in hand. The gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the story that tells us that God became one of us to show us how to live, provide the payment for our individual sin and raise us to a new life of our identity being rooted in all he is, not all we can create ourselves to be.  

A theology without personal sin, is one that provides a false way to grace. (Mark McMinn writes about this surprising correlation between our sin and God’s grace in his phenomenal book, “Why Sin Matters”)  It allows philanthropic goodness and government to be our salvation. It allows the attempt to set up a kingdom of justice void of the cross of Christ.  It is false as it believes that deliverance can be found in humanity.  It deals with the externals to appease the conscience, it does nothing to plunge the depth of the human soul still in desperate need of divine deliverance. 

Our greatest moral failure as a nation may be that we are seeking to address the results of sin without getting to the cause of sin, making the cross of Christ insignificant. Indeed, it is to make a holy God small and personal sin insignificant. Satan is delighted to keep us from the cross; he is thrilled with a society that seeks to do creature-centered good with a veiled sense of pride, motivated not out of love for Jesus and all he has done for us, but out of all we can do for each other.  We must continue to preach, not pervert and mininize the gospel and serve the poor because we are spreading the movement of the reign of Jesus Christ, not ourselves. 

Laundry is done, soups in the crock pot…I’ve left the pulpit, for now…

One Reply to “Serve the Poor…Just Never Mind the Cross?”

  1. I wholeheartedly agree….and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

    Book? You mentioned previously a book? What are you writing? I’m writing too….a book on worship for worship leaders…co authored with a friend from the UK.

    Write me…

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