Actions speak far louder than words. And the reality is that no amount of lying can cover up the lack of love, caring and compassion that is missing from this man’s life. Christianity is not a cloak of respectability to be worn to cover immoral actions.
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. — Reinhold Niebuhr
In yesterday’s post,saved by faith, I shared some of why Reinhold Niebuhr is one of my favorite theologians. I want to continue that this morning.
Niebuhr’s Christian idealism was forged on the anvil of of modern industry. Serving a 13 year pastorate in Detroit taught him firsthand the perils of a pious unreality disconnected from the everyday world of real life. That led him to a passionate concern with the practical bearing of Christianity on the ever present political and economic problems of his day.
The value of Niebuhr’s theology for me is that he shows that no matter how important the church’s work is in saving men and women from the sins of the world, the church still must function in the world. It is a social institution. That means its achievements and its limitations needs the same critical examination as other social institutions.
The church should provide the indispensable resources necessary for the building of a good and moral society. Without the moral foundation provided by the gospel (which has to be a social gospel) we can never hope to achieve the vision of an ideal society where love and justice is fully realized. But, when the church is successful in providing those resources there is real hope.
Whenever religion concerns itself with the problems of society, it always gives birth to some kind of millennial hope, from the perspective of which present social realities are convicted of inadequacy, and courage is maintained to continue the effort to redeem society of injustice.
When someone steals another’s clothes, we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belongs to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor. — Basil the Great
St. Basil the Great was a man of deep personal holiness. Born in Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330 AD, Basil was a man of great learning and piety, a true giant of the early Christian Church. In 370 he was made bishop of Caesarea. Basil actively aided victims of droughts and famines, insisted on rigid clerical discipline and was fearless in the renunciation of evil.
Was Basil the Great correct in his assessment? If so, is it time to clean out a few of our closets?