Our social action needs to be biblically based, not world-based.
For most of my life, the majority of evangelical Christians in North America have not seemed particularly interested in meeting the physical needs of poor people. In fact, the few evangelical leaders who expressed a passion for social action were suspected of being theologically liberal.
While most North American evangelicals—including myself—still fall far short of "spending ourselves on behalf of the hungry" (Isaiah 58:10), there is no doubt that something has fundamentally changed in the past decade. Helping poor people has become the "in" thing to do. Indeed, churches, mission agencies, para-church organizations, and social entrepreneurs are launching a host of initiatives to provide clean water, housing, jobs, healthcare, and micro-finance to poor people at home and abroad. In fact, many in the millennial generation see social action as the primary expression of Christian faith.
I am so thankful for this renewed interest in helping the poor. Praise God that He is stirring the hearts of His people!
But I have a growing concern as well. I fear that in all of the excitement and activity, we are forgetting God's solution to poverty. I fear that we are using the world's answers rather than the Bible's answers. I fear that we are repeating the very mistakes that caused evangelicals to retreat from social action about a century ago.