Reconnecting Spiritual Practice, Evangelism, and Justice

Many Christians are questioning whether evangelicals care enough about trying to change the political and economic institutions of our society so that they will provide equal justice for all of its citizens; protect other animals and the environment; and end poverty for those who have been shut out of the American Dream. On the other hand, there are those who primarily preach a social gospel but are wondering if they have neglected that more personal connection with God that is so much at the core of contemporary evangelicalism. In both mainline and evangelical churches, congregations are coming to realize that if the whole gospel is to be lived out, it cannot be a matter of either-or. Instead, it must be both-and. Unless those who are won to a personal relationship with Christ are incorporated into local congregations, churches will die; and unless these local congregations are also equipping their people to work for justice issues, especially on behalf of any who are poor and oppressed, they are failing to live out biblical mandates, and their religious lives could become narcissistic.

That much seems clear, but how can we establish an organic connection between these two essential parts of the mission of the church so that they are fully integrated? We believe that the nexus between evangelism and justice is to be found in the kind of Christian mysticism we are advocating.

We contend that being "fully devoted followers of Christ," a phrase popular with many evangelical churches today, involves commitment to what Jesus was committed to—maintaining a deep, mystical connection to God that empowered him to be compassionately connected to others, particularly the outcasts of society. Jesus wanted all to know God personally and enjoy the benefits of the "full life" that God intends for all people.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2007
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