The heart of Christian social action

One of my big fears as we understand our faith in the context of serving the last, the least and the lost is that we drift away from our service to and worship of Christ. I don’t think that service/love of others and service/love of Christ are real choices or opposites. I think it is impossible to adequately do either in isolation from the other. I also think that history tells us that dividing these aspects has been the frontline of spiritual warfare and that many good people who have been concerned to serve the world have lost their grip on Jesus. Likewise many good people who have been concerned with staying true to Christ have withdrawn from the world. The call of God in our time is to hold these things together. Because it is a place of spiritual warfare, and because we tend to come from one of these two traditions we struggle with understanding and imagining this integral path. We must stay faithful in the fight. I found the following quote from Pope John Paul 11 helpful.

‘It is true that the inchoate reality of the Kingdom can also be found beyond the confines of the Church among peoples everywhere, to the extent that they live ‘gospel values’ and are open to the working of the Spirit who breathes where and when he will.But it must immediately be added that this temporal dimension of the Kingdom remains incomplete unless it is related to the Kingdom of Christ present in the church and straining towards eschatological fullness….The kingdom of God is not a concept, doctrine or a programme subject to free interpretation, but is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God’


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2 Comments on “The heart of Christian social action
  1. It is clear that there are those who in the ‘service’ of the needy have lost their own salvation as they lost touch with the Kingdom and less often acknowledged those whose passion for the congregation or network of congregations lose sight of the true Church. In this piece from JPII we see the likely tension between the needs of the world and the Kingdom and the Church and the church. What should ensure that these tensions do not become failures is real robust unity. Many of us suffered in the last 80 years from the nonsense of debates about a social vs spiritual Gospel. If we could understand that each of us has different ways of being called by the same Saviour, and that each of us receives different revelations, but that the Church only fully exists when these diverse callings and revelations are linked in a harmoniuous relationship as complex and as simple as that of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, then we would be somewhat closer to being ready for our Groom.

  2. Enjoying reading these blogs, David, and I like how you’re going after false dualisms which prevent the full manifestation of Christ and His Kingdom, here in the earth.

    Ian – good thoughts about diversity and unity not being mutually exclusive. Hope you’re well? It was great to spend time with you in 2007 at Gerald’s Connections gathering and pray / prophesy into Hope ’08.

    Phill x