Anyone who knows me knows that I am wary of the ‘social gospel’. Whenever the evangelical church has lurched off into it with evangelical zeal in the past, it has almost always come a cropper. The emphasis moves firmly on to ‘social’, and ‘gospel’ becomes its weedy, sickly partner.
However, I find myself moved by this article by John Harris of the Guardian. Harris describes himself as an “unshakeable agnostic” so he is no natural advocate of Christianity and certainly is concerned when the relationship between religion and the state get cosy and blurred.
Nonetheless, Harris observed Frontline Church in Liverpool in action and how they are making a difference in people’s lives – those on the margins of society who would be left in their misery if Frontline were not there. Harris concludes:
A question soon pops into my head. How does a militant secularist weigh up the choice between a cleaned-up believer and an ungodly crack addict? Back at my hotel I search the atheistic postings on the original Comment is free thread for even the hint of an answer, but I can’t find one anywhere.
Now (more caveats coming), there are some things I do not like or agree with about this church (e.g. the spirituality of the church, what governs worship?, is it loving to not show prostitutes the gospel from the Scriptures? etc). But this is a church which has people so moved by the gospel that they get together to reach out to prostitutes and “sinners” in such a way that lives are changed. Further, agnostics like John Harris see that his kind have no answers and maybe just opens the door for people to see Jesus Christ at work.
Now, that draws my grateful thanks for the kind of Saviour who makes people into new people in all kinds of ways.