There are a lot of things going on in the world that naturally cause concern: wars, political upheaval, poverty, starvation, disease. There are also natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, blizzards, drought, famine. Then, there’s always all kinds of social problems: crime, poverty, homelessness, out of wedlock births, break down of the family, abortion, aids, poor education.
As concerned citizens of our nation the world we might wonder what we can do to try to help. All kinds of charitable and benevolent efforts are made on a continuing basis to try to help the needy. Indeed, the amount of money regularly contributed to charity, and the equivalent value in the form of various donated goods, is rather staggering. It is good to help where appropriate, but charitable contributions will never wipe out neediness. A person could give all of his income to help the needy, and there would still be countless needy people all around him when he dies. Situations will always develop that result in more needy people. That’s just part of the reality of living in this world. The Lord Himself stated, “For you have the poor with you always,” (Matt. 26:11). That’s not being callous, just realistic and truthful.
There will always be natural disasters. There will always be sickness and disease. There will always be wars (Matt. 13:7-8). We can work to try to minimize such occurrences, but we will never eliminate them altogether. Again, such things are part of living in this world. This is not a fatalistic outlook, simply a realistic one.
So, where does the church fit into this reality? The church is supposed to make a difference for good in this world. How can we do that? How can we help?
Certainly, the church can, and should, be a benevolent force in this world. But, benevolence is not the primary work of the church. Neither is it the means through which the church can do the most good in the face of the harsh realities of this world. What the church can do to most effectively help improve the state of this world is teach the gospel to as many people as possible, on as widespread a basis as possible, throughout the world (Mk. 16:15-16).
The gospel will change lives for the better. As more lives are changed, people’s outlooks, how they act, how they treat others, even how they conduct themselves as citizens will change for the better. If enough people change in these positive ways, the world cannot help but become a better place. And, the gospel will provide real, ultimate hope to anyone who will live by its teachings.
Churches that get all bogged down in social issues as their primary thrust have lost sight of what the church is supposed to primarily be about. People need a real value system by which to live and through which to direct their lives. The gospel provides the very best value system. As the church the best thing, the most effective thing we can do to help is to teach, teach, teach the gospel of Jesus Christ…
Gary L. Hutchens