Libby S. passed on the attached article by the Evan Hunter (Director, Ivy Jungle Network). Evan challenges us to embrace a holistic gospel that proclaims the Kingdom of God, which grounds our actions in our faith.
In other words, we need help ourselves and our faculty/students to move beyond “simply doing something that makes them feel good to embracing the Kingdom of God in a way that gives meaning to our actions, develops an integrated life, and demonstrates the power of the gospel as a witness to the world.”
Evan offers three implications for Kingdom-centered discipleship:
1. Connect Meaning to Experience by “grounding the “feel good” (which are in fact “real” good) actions in a theology of reconciliation and the Kingdom” so that justice becomes a part of our lives and not just an endorphin rush. Use some of the excellent teaching available (see some suggested books, begin with Gary Haugen’s The Good News about Injustice) to expand your and your disciple’s thinking about Jesus and social justice. Teaching the whole counsel of Scripture, from creation to recreation, in broad strokes can give the theological framework for us to place our experiences in “serving the poor, pushing for racial reconciliation, or protecting the environment.”
2. Develop an Integrated Life (in us and others) that moves beyond the “cheap grace” which proclaims a one-dimensional, transactional gospel to a holistic “reconciliation” of God and the whole person and of all of creation. Faith touches all of life. To make that move, we need to engage faculty/students in the “mess of ministry” beyond the campus and across socio-economical barriers. Experience is a powerful teacher; doing cements the message in many ways. So, service projects that step beyond our usual comfort zones help us develop an integrated life which undercuts the false notions of a “secular/sacred” or “individual/community” divide. Hopefully, they reinforce at the same time the reality of an integrated life in which such efforts at “holistic reconciliation” are more than an “add on” that good Christians only do with their spare time.
3. Demonstrate the Power of the Gospel and the Power of God by proving that Christianity is not only true, it also works. When we engage in social justice, our movements confront evil, look squarely in the face of death and its ultimate defeat, and proclaim the eschatological hope that the “injustice of the world and the darkness of the grave” are not the end of the story. Such efforts prefigure God’s healing transformation of the world and stand as a sign of the new creation that God is bringing about now and will fully bring about in the future. Evan suggests we look for ways to partner on campus with other “communities” who care about racial reconciliation, the environment, or injustice. In partnering, we echo the heart of God and the potency of the gospel to those outside. This echo leads to the next implication.
4. Stand as a Witness to the World by engaging purposefully in social justice. We catch the world’s attention (our campus community’s attention); we become salt and light to a skeptical world. Historically, the influence of Christianity has been tied to social justice. So when we engaged in social justice, we stand as a significant witness to the world of the efficacy of the gospel. The world sees the Kingdom at work–and often those doing the work have the chance to share authentically about their reason for engaging in such works. If we can “connect meaning to the experience”, help develop an integrated holistic discipleship, and find ways to practically show that Christianity “works” in the toughest issues of life, we give ourselves and our students an ability to proclaim (in word and deed) the hope that comes from knowing the King and his coming Kingdom.
Read Evan’s excellent article here.