William Carey was a leader in missions in India at the end of the 18th century. He translated the Bible into Bengali. Carey carried the good news of the gospel to the people of India. He’s well known for being a gospel witness there.
Although people have heard of Carey’s gospel witness, they aren’t always aware of the social reforms that he advocated and led in India. These reforms came from his applying the gospel to injustices and evils that occurred in Indian society.
Carey fought against practices like infanticide. He opposed the burning of widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. It’s obvious that this English Baptist missionary felt that the gospel constrained him to fight against such injustices and evils in Indian society.
Carey’s life causes me to ask the question. How are Christian leaders engaging injustice and evil in American society through gospel action?
For example, this week, many of us saw a video on social media of a young African-American man named Ahmaud Arbery apparently chased down and shot by a group of white men. The men claimed that Arbery resembled a burglary suspect and looked suspicious.
While the case is under investigation, no arrests have been made of any of the men involved in this shooting. It begs the question, had Arbery been white and his assailants black, would two months pass before the case was taken to a grand jury? Would there be no arrests made?
The fact that our minds would entertain such questions reveals the ghosts of racism that continue to haunt our nation. It’s important that we see the necessity to confront such apparent racism with gospel action just as Carey confronted the evils he saw in India due to his living out the gospel.
Leaders cannot remain silent in the face of such injustice. We must identify racism as a direct attack upon the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Christian leaders must seek justice and mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Christian leaders must label racism an attack upon the gospel, as Christ died for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev 7:9-11) and calls disciples to make disciples of panta ta ethne (people from all ethnic groups) (Matt 28:19-20). We also must lead our churches and people we are discipling to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15).
Leaders in the church need to understand and communicate the fact that people who are transformed with the message of the gospel live transformational lives that make a Kingdom impact upon the evils they perceive in their society. In so doing, they show how disciples lead like Jesus.