One of my favorite book titles about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is “King Came Preaching.” It reminds me that at the heart of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a gospel preacher who felt a just calling from God to fight against the racism and segregation he saw in the world.
It is easy for the world to make God’s people into merely good people. What I mean is that God’s people often do good works motivated by a desire to advance the Kingdom and display the glory and kindness of God in creation but our world commonly ascribes these good works to some altruistic goodness that must be common to all people. This undermines the conviction and connection of Christian good works.
Even when it comes to Jesus, many people would like to make him just a symbol of goodness or a good teacher who taught things that everyone can embrace. This undermines the truth about who Jesus is, why he came and what motivated his actions and teachings.
Jesus did not come to earth just to feed the hungry.
Jesus did not come to earth just to bring sight to the blind.
Jesus did not come to earth just to help people learn how to treat one another.
Jesus came preaching! Jesus came preaching a message of repentance, faith and forgiveness. All of his good works and the miracles he taught were there to confirm the authority of his teaching. If we don’t make the connection between Jesus preaching/teaching ministry with his good works, then we will fail to properly understand how we, His followers, should prioritize preaching/teaching and serving our world.
I’ve heard well-meaning Christians suggest that good works should be done by Christians with no strings attached. “Why not just give out water on a hot summer day without preaching at people?” “Why not give out food at Thanksgiving without trying to convert someone?” While I appreciate the sad reality that some Christians have gone over the top to present the gospel at the expense of being loving (which really isn’t presenting the gospel at all), I still think the declaration of the gospel in word and deed must be primary for Christians. If God, in all of His wisdom has chosen the preaching of the gospel as the means by which faith is to come, then who are we to decide that we’ve got some better, more modern, more effective way to do outreach than the one Jesus has promised to anoint?
Jesus came and did lots of things but most of all, Jesus came preaching so we should too.