I was talking with a group of friends about the following verse. Here is a verse for which the back-story is the exile to Babylon of the Israelites:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage . . . Seek the peace and prosperity (Shalom) of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers (has Shalom), you too will prosper.”
Did you get that? The Israelites had been taken away into captivity with hooks through their jaws. And God is saying to them, "Make sure that you bring peace to your captors." This in fact is the story of the whole Bible. Jesus, God’s representative came to bring peace to the world and we who are to be representatives of Jesus are to bring peace to our communities.
This is hard to write because we fail so miserably in the goals set before us, but there it is. We are not to retreat from the enemy territory into which God has brought us. Rather we are to engage the enemy and seek its prosperity. We are to feed the hungry, support the poor, do good to those in need. And it was at that point that the guy sitting next to me said, “I’ve been going to Church for 46 years and this is the first time I’ve heard anything like this.”
He didn’t like it one bit.
What I don’t get is why? How can this man or anyone else separate the Salvation Gospel from the Social Gospel. The love that comes to us through the Salvation Gospel should flow naturally into the Social Gospel. Those who can’t seem to live the one without rejecting the other have simply not understood the Kingdom that Jesus brought to earth in person and throughout the Old Testament which Jesus inspired. If you doubt what I say, type "Mercy" into your Bible search window.
In the Gospel message, found in both the Older and the Newer Testament, God’s Kingdom, both the now and the coming Kingdom, the message is one of rescue, deliverance, forgiveness and freedom; for all. We are not only those who receive God’s forgiveness and mercy and grace, but we are also agents who are to dispense God’s forgiveness and mercy and grace.
See you Monday