There are some wonderful instances of ordinary Christians, not least the young, who are concerned to preach the whole gospel unabashedly and do good first to the household of God and then, as much as is possible, outside as well. That has got biblical mandate behind it. . . .
My warning would be to those who are coming along and talking a lot about, “I want to be faithful to the gospel, but I also want to do social justice and good works.” My warning would be: it is not just what you do, it is what you are excited about.
If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.
If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.
Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow.
– Don Carson, lecture, “Is the Culture Shaping Us or are We Shaping the Culture?” delivered at the CBMW Different By Design Conference (Feb. 2, 2009, Minneapolis,
(HT: Desiring God)