Read Amos 5:21-24
21 “I hate all your show and pretence-
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead,I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living. (NLT)
In some Christian traditions,the thought of the gospel having much to do with wider issues of social justice is somehow a betrayal of the gospel. ‘Social gospel’ is a phrase of suspicion. Salvation is seen to be purely about individuals getting to heaven by faith in Jesus.
But this is not the whole gospel. Amos is one of many biblical writers that warn us against ‘privatising’ the gospel. Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom or rule of God. This rule involves extending his values and principles into the world. As Amos reminds us,it is not simply about going to church,singing fervent songs of praise,and going through the right rituals. It has wider implications.
God wants more than spiritual songs and religious observances. He wants us to take what is important to him into the world,to make a difference. Being rigorous about our own individual morality is only part of the story. We need to be concerned about wider issues as well. The gospel is well and truly ‘social’.