"Here we must face frankly the distortion of the gospel that is perpetrated in a great deal that passes for missionary encounter. A preaching of the gospel that calls men and women to accept Jesus as Saviour but does not make it clear that discipleship means commitment to a vision of society radically different from that which controls our public life today must be condemned as false." pp 132Newbigin, L (1986) Foolishness to the Greeks : The gospel and western culture. spck
and a bit more Newbigin to chew over...
"So words without deeds are empty, but deeds without words are dumb. It is stupid to set them against each other. It is, for example, stupid to say “The one thing that matters is to go everywhere and preach the gospel; all other activities such as schools and hospitals and programmes for social action are at best auxiliary and at worst irrelevant …. Why should people believe our preaching if there is nothing happening to authenticate them?...Our preaching is mere empty words if it does not have behind it a costly engagement with …all the powers that rob men and women of their humanity…But equally our programmes for teaching, healing, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and action for justice and freedom are futile if they do not point beyond themselves to a reality greater than they – to the great healer, the great liberator, the one who is himself the living bread. Pp 11-12Newbigin, L.(1988) Mission in Christ's Way: A Gift, a Command, an Assurance. Library of Christian Stewardship
I am still not convinced that we get this balance right. Perhaps because we have been ingrained with the either/or means to an end approach to mission. Perhaps because we have been guilty of words that are empty. Perhaps we have been guilty of actions that don't point beyond themselves.