What is the task of Christians? Christ commissioned us to go into all of the world, making disciples for His Kingdom. He also declared that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the downtrodden, we are, in fact, doing it unto Him. So which comes first? This, if you will, is the Christian equivalent of the chicken or the egg scenario. Do we preach the Gospel and then care for the poor? Or are we called to make an impact on culture through our “mercy ministries”, hoping that full bellies will turn into open ears?
These are the questions addressed in Pastor Melvin Tinker’s newest book, “Salt, Light, and Cities on Hills” published by Evangelical Press. Pastor Tinker takes the reader on a journey through modern church history in Britain and the United States in order to better understand the context of today’s issues. I grew up revering George Muller’s work with orphans and Wilberforce’s battle to free slaves, believing that the Gospel of Christ is not an academic venture for the mind, but one that also has hands that show compassion. But is there a proper order of things?
The great John Stott had his method, as did the brilliant D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Pastor Tinker really does an outstanding job of helping the reader understand how those British giants wrestled with the issue. The primary US example that is discussed is Pastor Tim Keller’s mission in New York City and his Mercy Ministries.
I would prefer not to spoil any conclusions that Pastor Tinker provides in his last chapter, but I will say that I believe he has captured the spirit of our Lord’s commands and has found what I would consider the Biblical balance between preaching the Gospel and demonstrating our love for our neighbor. This book therefore is a joy to recommend, for his readable prose and for his diligent research, I commend Pastor Tinker for his contribution to the subject. Pastors and church leaders would do well to get their hands on this book and seminaries would do well to incorporate these ideas into their curriculum.