Is the church's mission to save souls or to bring about progress in the world? Both are good. But are both good for the church as the church to do? Both are good, and Christians should and must be involved in both. But is one paramount and the other secondary for the church? Are these purposes of equal importance for the church? Is there any way that the church is NOT supposed to help the city, the state, the wider culture? What is the vision of the New Testament for the church?
I think Tim Keller would say yes. I think he would say we are to do evangelism and justice. At least that's what I hear in his message on Doing Justice.
I jotted down a few points from the message. First, his plea to churches:
It's very rare to see a church that is as good at theologically rich and deep preaching of the gospel and evangelistically effective preaching of the gospel , and at the same time is just so absolutely, deeply involved in justice issues and work with the poor in their community. It's very rare to see that together and I'm begging you to try.
Keller goes on to do a study of justice from Proverbs :
- What is justice?
- What is doing justice?
- Who should do justice?
- How you can be one of the people who does justice?
What is justice? Proverbs 3:17-20
Justice is when those of us who have power - we have money, we have influence, we have status, we have connection - when we are interweaving that in the community, when we are pushing it out instead of holding on to it, when we're threading it all over the place … there is an inter-wovenness. See, people are all being held up by the fabric.
What is doing justice? Proverbs 3:27-28
Who should do justice? Proverbs 11:10
The righteous are those who are willing to disadvantage themselves for the advantage of the community.
How should we do justice? Proverbs 19:17
Addendum: Next Generation Leadership Community's Notes on Keller's message.