Social concerns as a way of truth and life

Bishop’s Message

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27 (NIV)

What if?

I have been blessed to have grown up in a Christian home, and for as long as I can remember, have always understood true faith in God to be evidenced primarily by a mental and heartfelt assent to the wonderful invitation of Jesus Christ to confess my sins and to receive his promised forgiveness, recognising him as Lord and Saviour. Such faith has been, and continues to be, such a wonderful source of strength and blessing. But what if?

Studying Scripture daily for over fifty-five years has enriched me with a complementary way of understanding true faith, or true “religion” as the apostle James says.

What if true faith in God is also evidenced by repenting or turning away from a life centred on caring for ourselves, and turning more towards a life centred on caring for others, or as Jesus puts it, a way of life centred on loving our neighbours as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39)?

It is not only James and Jesus who describe God’s way to true life as the way of caring for orphans and poor widows, extending love and kindness especially towards those who are more disadvantaged in our communities. The apostle Paul also understands the purpose and meaning of our lives in similar terms: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

What if the Church understood her raison d’etre in these biblical truths? Then perhaps we might understand evangelism (sharing the Good News) as an invitation to all persons to put faith in God by committing themselves to the Jesus of the Bible who shows us the way to life—a life of loving God by loving our neighbours, and especially our neighbours whose needs are greater than ours.

The June 2024 issue of Methodist Message focuses on such faith in God, a faith evidenced by social concerns for our neighbours. What if this is also putting our faith in Jesus, who is the way to truth and life?

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2012-2020.