Considering we live in a fallen world it does not take one long to look around and recognize the endless number of social issues that exists in America and around the world. These issues range from poverty and unclean water to disease. One major issue that is recognized globally that has risen to the status of an epidemic is that of aids.
This raises some questions for the church. Is there a biblical call or mandate for the church to reach out and help with social issues? If so, which ones? Are there any limitations? And how far should the church go?
Christians are generally on board with reaching out socially, but there is a mix of opinions answering the questions posed above. Some Christians believe that social justice should be the church’s main focus and the way in which the love of Christ is shown. Other Christians believe that while we should care about social justice issues that it should not be our main focus, but come secondary as a means to leverage the gospel. In regards to aids, some Christians react harshly stating that it is God's judgement on certain individuals; while other Christians see it as another area of life that we are called to reach out and love our world doing what we can to be like Christ.
Relevant Sources of Authority
“..And fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves the earth.” (Genesis 1:28b)
“But a Samaritan, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Lk 10:33-34)
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:9-10)
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)
“The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage as which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice.” C.S. Lewis
“The goods of the churches should be employed for the good of the poor.” Thomas Aquinas Summa
“It is a reproach to religion and government to suffer so much poverty and excess…” William Penn
"God mercifully sets out to heal all of the destruction wrought by man in the fall, and we see this story of redemption unfold throughout Scripture. Mercy ministry primarily seeks to redeem physical and social destruction, but is often carried out as a window to spiritual and theological redemption." Tim Keller
Once again this is just a general look at the problem in regards to responsibility of Christians in regards to social justice and what answer we give to the world with issues such as the aids epidemic. Part 2 will contain my position on the topic.