Being a disciple of Jesus means growing in recognizing the importance of the common good of people in society, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore told college students at a conference in the country’s capital.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, spoke Jan. 27 on the first night of the five-day National Association of Evangelicals’ Christian Student Leadership Conference. Students from across the country gathered for the annual meeting, which focused on how evangelicals are to think about the common good.
When people are left to themselves, they “want Jesus to come in and just extend our own idolatry of the self out into the infinite future,” he said.
“Following after Christ means that we’re replacing this sense of self at center in the understanding that we are the supporting characters in other people’s stories,” Moore told about 65 students. “We start to recognize and pay attention [to] as we’re growing in Christ-likeness and as we’re growing in the Spirit … the significance of others and to recognize the worth and the dignity of people who can’t do anything for us.
“That’s the reason why we care about the unborn when the rest of the world would want to dehumanize them by speaking of them simply as zygotes and embryos and fetuses and unplanned pregnancies,” he said. “That’s the reason why we care about people who are suffering with AIDS and with other diseases. That’s why we care about women who are being trafficked. That’s why we care about immigrant communities that are suffering. That’s why we care about people who are in prison.”
Moore added, “[W]e learn for His priorities to become our priorities, which means we start caring about what it takes to cause the people around us to flourish, what it means for them to live in ways in which they are blessed rather than cursed.”
He addressed the question of Christian thinking on the common good by teaching on Luke 10:25-37, the account of Jesus’ encounter with a lawyer, who was an expert in the Jewish law, and of Jesus’ resultant parable of the Good Samaritan.
Christians often fail to think about the common good because of concern it will detract from either the Gospel or mission of Jesus, Moore said.
“And they have good reasons to think that [about the Gospel], because there are all sorts of people who would rather think about the common good than the Gospel,” he told the students. It happens in churches, denominations and organizations, Moore said.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘We want to make sure that we protect the mission of Jesus, so we don’t want to be concerned about anything other than spiritual things.’ We understand why people think that, because they see the mission turn into all kinds of other things.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press