Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eternal Hope

I came across a quote today that is disturbing to me, and I wanted to address it quickly. On the surface, it sounds so good, but when you dig at it a little, it is really un-Biblical. And the reason it concerns me so much is that it is coming from a guy that has a pretty good looking ministry going. It looks good on the surface, but I really wonder if people are having their physical needs met in an abundant way, yet their deepest spiritual needs are being neglected. I'll give you the quote, then I'll elaborate on that thought.

"Even if there were no heaven and there were no hell, would you still follow Jesus? Would you follow him for the life, joy, and fulfillment he gives you right now?" - Shane Claiborne

Now I want to start by saying that Mr. Claiborne is a champion for radical Christian living, taking care of the poor and downtrodden in the name of Christ, living lives that Jesus would recognize as Christ-following lives. And I think that is something that the Christian church today needs to hear, and do...desperately.

But here's the rub.

That can't come at the expense of sharing the true gospel, which is the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.

All people, including the poor, are enemies of God - unless and until we place our faith in Christ as Savior. This life is not just about what happens now. This life is not just about life, joy and fulfillment on this earth. And I would submit for your consideration that this life is not mainly about those things.


Ask the family of this man, or the flock of Pastor Manuel, or any of the rest of the persecuted church what they think of the life, joy and fulfillment they have received on this earth. Completely different kind of fulfillment than Mr. Claiborne touts as the end all of Christian living.

I'm very troubled by the trend in some Christian circles of social justice to the neglect of the gospel. Mr. Claiborne has swept aside the eternal aspect of the hope that we have in Christ, which is the hope to come. That is perilous to the people you are ministering to, and your ministry is useless if it doesn't address a person's greatest spiritual need primarily. If you feed a person to contentment here on earth, that will not matter one tiny bit if they face God without Christ on the Day of Judgment.

Finally, contrast Mr. Claiborne's question with Paul's (God's) statement in 1 Corinthians 15:19 - If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

What are your thoughts?