Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will someone please make a Venn Diagram?

What does ministry to the poor look like? How do we balance the Kingdom of God and social justice? What is the form evangelism should take in the city?

These are the questions that swim in my cranial juices as of late. I pray that they continue to bring my face to the Lord to look for answers. We know from scripture and the very nature of Christ that God mandates us to take care of the poor. “I command you to be open handed toward your brother and toward the poor and the needy in your land.” (Deut 15:11)

God has made both the physical and spiritual, how can we think that our service is only the spiritual? (Gen 1:28). I’m guilty of running to evangelize to the man that hungers for literal bread. His mind is consumed by the gurgling s of his stomach. I leave without a prayer for repentance and without a care for his hunger. This cannot be what God means by “mercy.”

The other side of the ditch is there too. The side that runs to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, but feeds NOT the words of eternal life and clothes NOT in garments of righteousness. These are churches that remove the name of Christ from their work and become just another government program.

I don’t mean to speak harshly; I only rebuke my own wanderings into ditches. It is evidence of God’s love in our life when we respond with balanced deed for need. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:16-17

Jesus teaches that anyone who has truly been touched by the grace of a merciful God will be vigorous in helping the needy. I ask you brothers and sisters, what does vigorous mercy look like?

In our human nature we tend to put limits onto our aid. We limit by deciding on our own accord the worthiness of a person in need to receive our help. We also limit by what we believe he or she may do with our aid. We make them out to be “deserving” poor. I was getting an oil change a few weeks ago. I was backing up my car when a man approached me and asked, “Do you have $.38 for the bus?” I barely looked at him, but internally I judged. “I can’t give money, I’m never supposed to give money, they’ll just spend it on alcohol, etc.” The middle-class mantras invaded my carnal mind. I limited my aid by judging both man and use of my aid. I counted him as “undeserving.”

Who am I? I’m the undeserving sinner obstinate toward the Lord. I spit at His grace in that moment, denying mercy to another. Who are we to judge worth? Who are we to limit the workings of the Spirit of God? The Holy Spirit is in the movements of mercy, in the acceptance of mercy, in the extension of the acceptance. That $.38 would have been blessed. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as I don’t claim to know any depth on this subject.

1 comment:

  1. I love your thoughtfulness on this subject.

    You really hit a spot in my heart about judging people worthy or not...God can use any situation with any person to His betterment and He will bless it. Thanks for that reminder.

    And, I also think that many people, given the choice, would speak to the physical needs faster than the spiritual, because it is easier to give food and money than to share the gospel at times. I will be praying that God readies my heart to talk about the kingdom with these people while ministering to their physical needs.