Dr. Suranjeen Prasad Pallipamula, an Adventist physician in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India, reflects on this week’s Sabbath School lesson.
The Sabbath school lesson on Tuesday (20 Nov 2012) reads:
Clearly evangelism is central to the mission of the church … and for engagement in matters of social concern.
Though the church faces many challenges, one of the most difficult is to keep a proper balance in understanding of mission. On one hand, it would be easy to get caught up in social reform and in working for the betterment of society and its ills. While that work is important, in and of itself, it must never be allowed to swallow up the ultimate mission of the church, which is to reach people for Jesus and to prepare people for his return.
What is this ‘true’ understanding of missions?
Can we truly reach out to people and prepare them for his return without interfering in their environment?
It somehow seems right to just feed the hungry, visit the prisoner and bring water to the thirsty without questioning the status quo. Doing that is going too far for the church. In fact some went so far as to call the social gospel Satan’s most powerful weapon.
The new believers were first christened ‘Christians’ in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The next few verses describe Agabus, a ‘prophet’ who foresaw a great disaster (a famine in some versions). His foresight came from studies and through the inspiration of the spirit. The ‘Christians’ in the church accepted his prophecy and worked on it by preparing ‘aid’.
Christians should understand the political-social environment and the spirit will be able to inspire some of us to foresee (prophesy); the Christian should respond with Aid. The Christian should work to prepare the people for disasters, make them build strong social foundations by questioning and making right existing inequalities.
The church has always been the mask of goodness for the goons from time immemorial, while they support it with ill earned money; the church supports them by just being a band aid to a gaping and festering wound, doing just enough to stop a revolution. The church and the goons sup together and are strange but perfect bed fellows.
Is this the church I would like to belong? A church that would be a stooge, a faithful knave to the goons that would destroy my people, my earth, my future for their immediate gains and gratification? God forbid.