Social Service Should Show Life of Christ, Not Just Evangelism Method

The faith-based Amity Foundation provided relief supplies to Ecuador hit by an earthquake in April 2016.
The faith-based Amity Foundation provided relief supplies to Ecuador hit by an earthquake in April 2016. (photo: Amity Foundation)
By Esther TianNovember 11th, 2022

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” A male believer emphasized, “Strictly speaking, it is not true service when you serve people and the society with a special purpose, even with the good motivation of evangelism, as it is utilitarian. The motive for a Christian to do social service should be simple to imitate Jesus and learn to love others as himself.”

A Christian lay leader surnamed G (pseudonym for safety reasons) with years of social service experience encouraged church members to participate in charity activities to let others “see” Jesus in them and their actions instead of words.

He said he couldn’t approve of those with impure ministry motivations who attempted to share the gospel through “charity”, as real service was not just leading people to Christ but showing unconditional love.

G believed that some Christians couldn’t consistently participate in or withdrew from social service when they didn’t see the results of evangelism and the group being helped was disgusted by such a purposeful service.

He gave an example that touched him. A Taiwanese medical student chose a project of social service to serve a child with cerebral palsy whose nose was wiped all day. He could not carry out any verbal interaction or provide any medicine or treatment. So he felt like a failure, but God let him realize that his service was itself an expression of Jesus’ love.

G continued, "Of course, it is not to manifest the life of Jesus by wiping any person’s nose. When he saw the need of the child, the student could not help but serve him with love."

In the view of most Christians, it is ineffective work that a person conducts charity activities without bringing the gospel to others who can’t be rescued without hearing the message of Jesus.  

But G hoped that people could “see” Jesus through what His followers did. "We can’t let people know Jesus by our words but by doing what Jesus did. The child may someday go to heaven though he hasn’t heard a word about Jesus. When asked ‘Have you heard the gospel?‘ he might answer, 'I haven't heard the gospel, but I have seen it in the one who served me.' As this medical student has shown the gospel to him."

For a long time, Christians like to preach the slogan that "believers will go to heaven, but unbelievers will go to hell". G stated, "What we preach is always just a 'simple' gospel, not the full gospel that the Bible tells us. The gospel is actually perfect. For example, when Paul was preaching, he also talked about history, saying 'Jesus is the son of David', which today our church rarely talks about."

In G’s view, in order to see immediate results of evangelism, Christians take the opportunity to say about Jesus while distributing goods and offering service. But in fact, God’s kingdom is of peace, righteousness, love, Goodness, and holiness, which believers should all live out.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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