According to Walter Rauschenbusch, the social gospel is the old message of salvation, but enlarged and intensified. The individualistic gospel taught us to see the sinfulness of every human heart; in addition, it also inspired us to have faith in the power and love of God to save every soul that comes to him. However, this individualistic gospel has not given us sufficient understanding of the sinfulness of the social order and its share in the sins of all individuals within this order. In effect, how does society sustain the sinfulness of men?
The Apostle Paul warned the young prophet Timothy to inform and instruct him in the perilous time he would observe, something that we are still living in today. His warning on the dangers of the marketplace during their time has remained relevant even today. Those were the sins Timothy would confront and expose in preaching God’s Word. Those were the sins that he would need to avoid in his life, as young as he was and much more vulnerable to temptation.
1You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! 6 For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, 7 who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
(2 Timothy 3:1-7)
Open your social media accounts and you will see people who are “lovers of themselves,” “lovers of money,” “boasters.” You will also see those who are arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, the list can go on. Whom/What does your social media account glorify? Does it glorify God or does it glorify only you? Moreover, what does it mean to be prophets in the marketplace today? It means to be prophets of God in the social media where the people hang out.
People who excessively love themselves are individuals who are utterly self-centered. Everything they do is driven by self-love, rather than self-sacrifice. Because they are so self-engrossed, nothing interferes with their pursuit of self. They do not allow the Word of God to call them out of bondage of their sins. In a society that encourages “selfies” and using “#blessed” captions to “humbly brag” about the things they own or the place they have been, the prophet in the social media marketplace must recognize these sins in the sinners, as well as themselves. However, they must still be compassionate towards the sinners themselves. Today’s prophets in the marketplace must be sincere with spreading the social gospel, wherein we realize that we can only find the true meaning of life in the love of God and in spreading this love to others.
In the King James Version of the Bible, a single word represents those who are “lovers of money,” who are said to be simply “covetous.”Covetousness is about being consumed by the desire for more, to make material wealth the chief object of one’s affection. What did Paul say about this sin that we see so widespread in the marketplace? The reason a lot of people are primarily in the marketplace is that they desire more material gain.
6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NRSV)
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How do you differentiate self-love from sacrifice in the context of your life?