Social justice vs Gospel – is it a battle at Urbana?

By December 30, 2009

USA (MNN) — Social justice issues HAVE been at the forefront of this InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Urbana 09. MNN's Elisa Whiteman reported on the Human Wrong initiative. There are also other issues — HIV/AIDS, poverty, homosexuality, environmental justice, and the list goes on.

The question is, are Christians focused more on these issues — helping the victims emotionally and physically — rather than sharing the Gospel? Director of Urbana 09, Jim Tebbe, says, "There is a high consciousness of issues of justice and what Jesus has to say about this. How do we as Christians live this out? That is really important. We will be emphasizing evangelism and reaching out with the proclamation of the Gospel at the same time, just as strongly how we as Christians live that out."

Urbana 09 features three tracts: international and domestic poverty and advocacy. Tebbe says Urbana will be asking for commitments "to be what we would call a 'relocater.' And, that is a person who is willing to live in and amongst the urban poor when they're done with college. We hope to have a quarter of our students respond to that."

Internationally, Tebbe says there will be a similar call. "There will be a call to live incarnationally amongst the poorest of the poor in cities of the world. And we would like to see students commit in order to do that."

Tebbe says there will be all kinds of active engagement, such as legislative lobbying.

There's a reason they're focusing social justice issues. "Students respond to social justice issues and move from that to hearing the Gospel, rather than hearing the Gospel and moving to social justice."

Tebbe says as young people get involved in these issues, they begin asking questions of those their serving, such as, "What does Jesus say about that? Would you like to know more about this Jesus who speaks to this? Let me introduce you to him."

Pray that God would move in the hearts of young people not only to reach out and help those in need physically, but spiritually.

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