Read Isaiah 5:8-12
8 What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field,
until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.
9 But I have heard the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
swear a solemn oath:
“Many houses will stand deserted;
even beautiful mansions will be empty.
10 Ten acres of vineyard will not produce even six gallons of wine.
Ten baskets of seed will yield only one basket of grain.”
11 What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning
looking for a drink of alcohol
and spend long evenings drinking wine
to make themselves flaming drunk.
12 They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties-
lyre and harp,tambourine and flute-
but they never think about the Lord
or notice what he is doing. (NLT)
Many Christians have heard of the so-called social gospel. The term implied that the message in that gospel was all about changing society with the subsequent neglect of the call to repent of our own sins and trust in the death of Jesus for mercy. It is true that some did convey such a message so as to make them little more than religiously inclined social workers. The focus was on structures and societies rather than the human heart.
However,any reading of the Bible should make it clear that the good news from God is very social. Texts like this remind us that our gospel addresses social evils and not just personal sins. When Jesus spoke of bringing in his rule over humankind he wasn’t just talking about getting people individually converted. He was talking of ushering in the new heavens and the new earth.
Of course we can’t bring heaven to earth by political or military means. Of course we dare not neglect the need for people to come to Jesus in penitence and faith. But part of that coming to Jesus is to turn from our own sins of greed and selfishness and to seek to make this world a better place to live. Christianity is far,far more than getting saved and waiting to get to heaven when we die.
Our God is a God of justice. If we don’t care about social justice we are neglecting what God calls important. Our gospel must always be a ‘social gospel’.