What’s more important: words or actions?
[This is a guest post by Jeannette Cochran who gave this weekend’s message “For God’s Sake: Justice.” If you missed it you can find the podcast here. Jeannette served on our pastoral staff at Seneca Creek, where she still attends and leads today. You can find out more about Jeannette and read her blog here.]
It’s a question that’s been argued in Christian circles for centuries and the answer, I believe, is “Yes.” Yes, both are important because they go hand in hand, like two sides of the same coin. Evangelism (our words) addresses the need for spiritual life; justice (our actions) addresses the needs of physical life. People are both physical and spiritual beings so addressing only half the problem gives us only half the solution.
When reaching out to the poor and needy we must get involved in helping with their economic and social needs. To fail to do so is simply a lack of love and how can we preach a gospel of love if our actions don’t match our words. But likewise, we should also share the hope and good news of the gospel so that people can experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Offering to pray for those we minister to or building a friendship can be an effective means for sharing Christ without forcing the gospel or giving the impression that our help has strings attached.
As I mentioned this past weekend, James reminds us that our actions, and not our words alone reveal genuine faith.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17
Because justice and evangelism go hand in hand, when we choose to partner with other groups, it’s ideal when we can work with those who are addressing both sides of the problem, the physical and the spiritual. Here are a few that I mentioned on Sunday who are doing just that.
- Seneca Creek’s Neighbors 4 Neighbors
- Seneca Creek’s ESOL Spring Classes
- Zion Project
- International Justice Mission
In a world of injustice, one of the hardest things for people to believe is that God is good. But God has chosen us, His Church, to set the record straight and show the world that He is good through holistic ministry that includes both justice and evangelism.
– Jeannette Cochran
P.S. If you’re interested in the D.C. Walk to end modern slavery that was listed in the Justice flyer last weekend, the correct link to the web site is www.unbounddc.org . Sorry for the error!