In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action,” wrote Dag Hammarskjøld in his book Markings. Indeed, we have a whole gospel that is Christ-centered, holiness-summoned and justice-oriented.
The Christian’s cross consists of two beams: the vertical beam of our relationship to God in His infinite love and forgiveness, and the horizontal beam of our relationship to others in the world. The two cannot be separated. They always intersect on the Christian’s cross.
Holiness without social concern is a soul without a body; social concern without holiness is a body without a soul. One is a ghost, the other a corpse. Only when they are wedded together do we have a living organism.
Suffering and tragedy stalk our world every day. News media bring to our living rooms poignant scenes of the carnage of the innocent, the anguish of refugees, the sad spectacle of the millions who are hungry, homeless and hurting. The brokenness of our world constantly impinges upon us.
The evils of pornography and sexploitation relentlessly invade the mainstream of our culture. The traditional family may soon be added to the endangered species list from the infection of increased divorce rates, acceptance of same-sex marriages and the rise of dysfunctional families. Violence and murder now stalk our schools and churches as well as our streets. Terrorism fuels the fears of people worldwide. The silent holocaust of abortion claims 1.5 million lives each year in the United States and over 50 million worldwide. Our world is neck-deep in trouble.
Our nation was founded upon righteousness and reverence for God. The founders of this nation legislated for each session of Congress to open with prayer and inscribed upon our coins “In God We Trust.” But we have strayed from those principles. We have outlawed prayer in our schools, made legal the killing of innocent unborn children and spawned a generation victimized by drugs, AIDS and the specter of nuclear holocaust.
The Christian faith is not an escape from the realities and problems of the world. The cross was the most eloquent demonstration of caring the world has ever known. Christ calls His followers to the costly implications of the cross, to the biblical authority of a vulnerable discipleship. Where the world is at its worst, there the Christian church ought to be at its best.
Henry Gariepy, Reflecting God NIV Study Bible