I have evangelical friends who seem primarily concerned about saving souls for eternity neglecting the social activism, and social justice friends who appear primarily concerned about bringing relief in this life neglecting personal salvation.
We must understand and believe that no matter what kind of difference we can make in people’s lives – feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, building water wells in Africa (and we should do all these things), without Jesus people are going to perish anyhow. Whether they die now because of dirty water, or later because we’ve given them clean well water to extend their earthly lives, it’s irrelevant if they die in their sin because we didn’t tell them about Jesus. So what if we make their life here a little better for this blip of time and they spend eternity away from God because we were only concerned about getting them a well or feeding them? Have we really done them a favor if we don’t witness to them about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, the only Son of God, and the only way to the Father? If we don’t tell them that God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to shed His blood for their sin and make them right with God, then we have done them a disservice. The Kingdom of God is so much more than filling empty stomachs. When people drink the water from wells of the earth, they will thirst again. The Kingdom of God includes offering them the living water through the Gospel of the resurrected Jesus.
On the other hand, it is a hollow witness when we simply tell of Jesus’ love in order to see sinners saved without showing His love. We are not going to convince anyone that what we say about eternal life is real if we are mean-spirited toward each other or toward the least, the marginalized, and the lost in this life. Who would want to spend eternity with people who hate their sisters and brothers? We must show them love through our words and actions. James 2:15-16 says, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
As followers of Jesus, we currently stand where heaven and earth meet, inviting people into God’s Kingdom by showing them and telling them of Christ’s love.