Tangible: A Helpful Resource for Displaying the Gospel
Understanding the relationship between evangelism and so-called social justice is difficult. Living out that relationship is even tougher. But Chris Sicks, the pastor of mercy at Alexandria Presbyterian Church in Virginia has put together a very helpful resource for navigating that elusive balance.
The full title of his concise book tells a lot about Chris’ theme and tone – Tangible: Making God Known Through Deeds of Mercy and Words of Truth. I have tried to address the relationship between evangelism and “mercy ministries” in this blog. Chris explores the topic more deeply in his book, which comes out of years of on-hands ministry to people through his church as well as deep theological study in the scriptures.
Consider just two of the chapter titles that try to strike a balance:
Chapter 2: Tell and Show: Deeds Authenticate the Message
Chapter 3: Show and Tell: Words Articulate the Message
I believe Chris would prioritize the verbal proclamation of the gospel over “authenticating” the message through deeds but only slightly. It would be more accurate to say he believes the two must go together just as they do throughout scripture and church history.
Here are some statements I highlighted while reading:
“While you and I can’t provide nonbelievers with proof that God exists, we can provide evidence.” (page 54)
“Christianity alone offers a sufficient explanation – and solution – for the suffering in this world.” (page 63)
“If we want to do any lasting good, however, we must help people see that they have spiritual needs more profound than any of their physical needs.” (page 70)
“Agape love draws us toward need, not comfort.” (page 104)
“I think Jesus wanted the disciples to trust and rely on Him to do the impossible (which is just what you need to do when you move into the lives of hurting people around you).” (page 114)
The book is short, very well written, laced with moving stories from Chris’ experiences with needy people, and always tied to the Bible. It could be a very helpful resource for a small group discussion that could lead to kingdom-advancing action. I highly recommend it.