The theme in today’s services is “sharing God’s love and justice and words and actions” (the third of our three church goals). As we consider that, I’d like to refer you to the “Lausanne Covenant”.
It is widely regarded as one of the most significant documents in modern church history. It arose from the First International Congress on World Evangelization held in Lausanne in 1974, which brought together around 2,700 Christian leaders from over 150 countries. Under the heading “Christian Social Responsibility” it declared the following.
“Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and Man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.”
In 1989, a follow-up congress in Manilla issued the “Manilla Maifesto”. The section on “The Gospel and Social Responsibility” affirmed the following.
“The authentic gospel must become visible in the transformed lives of men and women. As we proclaim the love of God we must be involved in loving service, as we preach the kingdom of God we must be committed to its demands of justice and peace.
Evangelism is primary because our chief concern is with the gospel, that all people may have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Yet Jesus not only proclaimed the kingdom of God, he also demonstrated its arrival by works of mercy and power. We are called today to a similar integration of words and deeds. In a spirit of humility we are to preach and teach, minister to the sick, feed the hungry, care for prisoners, help the disadvantaged and handicapped, and deliver the oppressed. While we acknowledge the diversity of spiritual gifts, callings, and contexts, we also affirm that good news and good works are inseparable.
The proclamation of God’s kingdom necessarily demands the prophetic denunciation of all that is incompatible with it.”
What a difference it would have made to the world if Christians and Churches worldwide had faithfully lived that out over the last few decades. What a difference it could make over the next few.