Last night, Cyndi and I watched the Machine Gun Preacher movie based on the life of Sam Childers. Before I go on, I want to say three things:
Ok, now that those things are out of the way, I think his story outlines a major problem with Christianity: the social gospel. Why? When people start advocating a social gospel, they begin dealing more with immediate problems–homelessness, starvation, war, and the like–and quit focusing on the REAL problem in the world–sin and God’s judgement. For those who haven’t seen the film, here is a quick overview:
Sam is in jail for something. He gets out.
He goes on a rampage and even murders a guy (although it gets revealed later the guy lived)
In his rampage, he also does drugs, robs people, etc….
He gets saved, changes his life, and has a real job
he goes to Africia
He sees how the war in Sudan is affecting kids. It hits him really hard.
Back in the states he figures out how to go back and build an orphanage (and a church)
He does that
While in Africa, he gets violent and begins executing “the bad guys”
He does seem to turn from that a bit at the end
Right. So here’s what I mean by him going to the social gospel: he comes to believe that the real problem is the “bad guys” doing “bad things” to these kids and their families. He goes on to fight that problem with guns. In reality, the real root cause of the problems is sin. Man’s rebellion against God makes all of creation groan and be really really messed up. Yes, he needs to protect himself and his property (I don’t care about his use of deadly force to do that) but to go out and execute judgement on people by outright killing them isn’t. He doesn’t try to convert people. He doesn’t struggle for the Gospel (and if he did, his actions aren’t that of Jesus and I doubt if people would believe him).
This is the problem that affects most of American Christianity. People see a problem (homelessness, poverty, lack of clean water, etc…) and begin to work to fix that. That work is good (it really is…there are real problems that need fixed). However, people loose sight that the real problem is Sin and focus on whatever their crusade is. The people they are helping may or may not get help, but they never hear the Gospel so they die in their sin.
What’s the solution? Obviously, people need to work to help those in need (Christians are commanded to do that). BUT, we cannot loose sight of the fact that EVERYONE in the world has a SIN problem and 100% of those people will die and suffer God’s wrath. There is a balance that must be struck.
Oh, the image is a movie poster I found using google images. I’ll credit the studio and movie people for it…..