The above question is asking whether the church should emphasize works designed to supply man's physical needs and change his environment, or should the church be primarily concerned with teaching God's Word to all people. I believe that most religious people would answer by saying that the work of the church is to prepare the soul of man so that it would be ready for a mansion in heaven. However, if you examine the activities of most denominational churches, you will find that most of their works center around supplying physical needs. Their programs emphasize taking care of the flesh. They are feeding the body, building hospitals to take care of the body, building old age homes to provide shelter for the body, building schools to educate it in worldly wisdom, and trying to change man's environment.
All of this sounds like good works, but is it the work God gave the church? Where is the scripture which authorizes the church to engage in such activities? God limited the benevolent work of the church to helping needy saints (Acts 4:32-35; 11:27-30; Romans 15:26). God never intended for the church to become an organization like the Red Cross.
The church is the spiritual body of Christ whose mission is to save souls through preaching the gospel and feeding on "that meat which endureth unto everlasting life" (John 6:27; Ephesians 1:22,23; Ephesians 4:11-13). We are told to "Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth: (Colossians 3:2). Many show that they have their affections "on things on the earth."
Jesus sought to better man by changing his heart, not his environment. He did not come to take people out of the slums, but the slums out of the people. Neither Jesus nor any of His apostles led any protest marches. They simply preached the gospel under all circumstances, and so should we. You can feed a person food for the body and he will still be lost. What he needs most is to learn and obey the gospel. Let us not pervert the glorious mission of the church.
Don R. Hastings
via The West End Way, Richmond Virginia