HELPING IN TODAY’S CULTURAL CLIMATE

Helping people in need is imminently biblical. This is not even open for any rational discussion. Nevertheless, at the risk of being completely misunderstood, I want to address a matter of priority that seems to need clarification. I enter this post with caution, trepidation, and uneasiness, yet enter I will.

Though I am usually well behind most folks when trends dawn on me, eventually awareness makes its way into my head. Of late, a shift towards what was once styled the “Social Gospel” strikes me as an emphasis making a comeback. In the company of this return, I also sense a growing ascetic spirit floating around.

I get it that our culture in America is significantly materialistic and I also realize the need to do regular self-analyses to discover if I have become possessed by my possessions. As a Christian, these are not small matters. The Bible has much to say in this area. However, I think I see a baby headed out the window with its bath water in this one.

Maybe I am simply justifying that I have stuff. I have not sold my stuff to feed and house the unfortunate, though I have spent considerable time and money helping people in need. Not only that, I do not believe such a virtual total divesting of my stuff is supposed to be the defining mark of my Christianity. I do not believe Jesus came primarily to feed people and make them well. He could have done both of these things to every person in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, but He did not. What He did do was preach and teach as many people as He could about matters tied to eternity.

Yes, we should share our blessings. A lack of compassion cannot walk in fellowship with the Good News about Jesus. Yet, the Great Commission is about salvation. Granted, compassion can and will open doors, but only the Gospel can open the doors of Hades to free its captives (Rev. 1:18). Well fed and housed lost people eventually die without Jesus (cf. Jn. 6:49).

I don’t intend to be guilted into a quick fix “Christianity” that either substitutes being kind for speaking a good word for Jesus or liquidating my possessions for proclaiming truth. I reiterate; Jesus saves! Churches are groups of people primarily in the business of growing in Christ-likeness so they may help the lost become saved.

I appreciate congregations, such as the one I attend, which have very well thought out assistance initiatives. But, pardon what may seem to some as mere self-justification, let Christians in their compassionate sharing be known without apology for talking to people about the Christ.

 

4 comments on “HELPING IN TODAY’S CULTURAL CLIMATE

  1. Reblogged this on A Spark of Truth and commented:
    Very good read.

  2. Doug b says:

    True this is a good read. It is also true that neither Jesus nor the early church had giveaway programs set up to entice people to come near their meeting place. People will always flock to a place where they can get something for nothing even if they really don’t need what is being passed out. Sometimes we set up these programs to ease our own conscience. One of the hardest things to do today is to identify those who are truly in need of anything such as food or clothing. One of the best programs we can follow individually I believe is found in Galatians the 6th chapter verses 9 and 10. “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all, especially unto those who are of the household of faith.” I believe this method will combine both proper benevolence and a preaching and teaching of the truth of God to those we have the opportunity to serve.

  3. Ron Harper says:

    If it is only about helping the needy then there is no need for the body of Christ. There are any number of organizations that help the needy. Jesus would not only feed the hungry, he would also offer them “living bread.”

  4. Sara Terlecki says:

    I agree, and think the Karns congregation has a balanced view on feeding the body and feeding the soul as well.

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