Friday, May 09, 2008

The Gospel and the Poor

I read Murray's biographies of Martyn Lloyd-Jones over 20 years ago. They affected me deeply as I was growing in my understanding of the Bible and the church's mission. I have to confess , though, that I rather lost interest in MLJ, not because of the man and his teaching, but because of those who constantly referred to 'The Doctor' with hushed tones and the little sharp intake of breath. It was the perceived harking back to the halcyon days of MLJ in his prime that I found became rather disagreeable.

Well, I was searching for a quote from the first volume of his biography which came to mind while in sermon preparation. I did not find the quote, but I did start re-reading the book.

All that to introduce I quote I found this morning which struck me. MLJ was making the decision to enter the preaching ministry:
[MLJ] was also preoccupied with the need for evangelistic work among poorer, working-class people. This conviction arose not simply out of interest in them as people, but equally out of a persuasion that modern Christianity, unlike the apostolic faith (which was relevant to the 'Barbarians' and to the 'unwise' as to the 'Greeks' and to 'the wise'), seemed to appeal largely to only one social and cultural group. That was evidence to him that the transforming power of real Christianity was largely absent. He wanted to see the message which he believed had been given to him of God tested in a place where social habits did not support church-going.
- The First Forty Years, Iain Murray, Banner of Truth, p. 105-6

Am I right in thinking that this is a word for today? I am often struck that we in the reformed/evangelical world do our work in middle class, affluent areas, that once we are there that is where we stay. I sometimes think we are too happy in our comfort zones.

Of course, I speak as one planting a church in an affluent neighbourhood where there is less and less of a culture of church-going. We are doing pioneering work here. Yet we must not neglect the poor. It is my heart's desire that one day, if God should allow us to get established here and into a position to plant a daughter church, that we will turn to the poor neighbourhoods near us.

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