Daily Thought - "meeting People’s Needs"

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’ – Matthew 25: 40 (NLT)

    It is easy to get caught up in the business of church. It is easy to get caught up in “playing church.” It is unfortunate that it sometimes takes a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy, to remind us to actually BE the church. It is not that the business of church is not important. It is not to say that our programs and plays and bake sales do not have their place. It is just when they become the focus we might get distracted. Distracted from what the church is ultimately about – people:

    Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1: 27 (NLT)

    Caring for widows and orphans in their distress. Caring for people. The number one theme in the Bible after salvation is taking care of people in need. In this verse from James we see that God actually considers religion pure and genuine solely if it is in the business of helping people. Throughout the ministry of Jesus we see the Lord addressing all of the needs of the people. The first area of need is of course spiritual:

    From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. – Matthew 4: 17 (NLT)

    This is right at the start of the ministry of Jesus. The deepest need people have is spiritual in nature. It is that they are separated from God and need to repent to restore their relationship and enjoy the promises of eternal life. For the wages of sin is death and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are already seeing in some of the larger churches in this country a move away from the spiritual needs of people. Topics such as sin, repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ are seemingly ignored or downplayed. In their place the focus shifts to material prosperity, self-help and motivation. What’s the problem with that? The focus is essentially being shifted from the eternal things of God to the temporal things of this world. The object of the new theology is focused on how to make this life better and not so much on assuring the next life is acquired. When the Apostle Paul said goodbye to the leaders of the Ephesian church he told them he was free of their blood because he did not hesitate to proclaim the entire Gospel to them. That is a lesson we need to take to heart. A bloodless Christianity does not expand the Kingdom of God. Paul instructed Timothy to guard only two things carefully – his life and his doctrine – because the lives of his hearers depended upon it. Doctrine is sometimes given a dirty name in modern Christianity where people seem to want to bend over backwards to find common ground all the while compromising the very thing they are supposed to representing. When Jesus looked out upon the crowds He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Their spiritual needs were obvious and His ministry constantly addressed them.

    Second however, people have real tangible material needs. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy we see people who lost their homes; including everything they own. Every day in New York City you can see people who have such dire needs materially. No coats in the winter. No shelter from the storms of life. Sometimes the church can become too focused on the spiritual needs and forget that meeting people in a place of material need with spiritual assistance is like handing a blind man a map. The church can become very judgmental of people due to their spiritual needs – i.e.: their sin – and ignore completely their material needs.

    What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. – James 2: 14-17 (NLT)

    Let’s be realistic. It is unlikely that you can truly minister to someone’s spiritual needs if they are in the middle of a material crisis. Their focus is on solving their material problem, not hearing about Jesus. In many cases, it is the display of compassion that opens their heart to receive the Gospel. In the ministry of Jesus we saw Him constantly worrying about the physical needs of the people He was ministering to. When He was speaking to the 4000 and then the 5000 He was concerned that they would not survive the trip back to where they lived unless they got something to eat. Jesus always ministered to the whole person. Spiritually, physically, and lastly – emotionally.

    Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. – Matthew 8: 1-3 (NLT)

    Did you notice what Jesus did here? He reached out and touched the leprous man. Someone no one would dare touch. Someone who everyone ran away from shouting “unclean!” Jesus did not need to touch this man in order to heal him but He recognized on a deeper level that his man needed to be touched. He need to be assured emotionally that it was going to be ok again. Christianity is not an exercise in denying our feelings. So often we can be so dismissive with people about their feelings. Someone says they feel worried about something and we respond with a Scripture that says God did not give them a spirit of fear. Yes, Scripture is immensely important because it is what will set them free but we need to acknowledge that the feelings are real. Jesus could have just waved His hand, healed the man, and moved on. But He took the extra time to reach out and touch the untouchable. The church is supposed to do the same. Because wounds that we fail to minister to become buried and buried wounds become strongholds for the enemy to use against us.

    We are very needy creatures. God designed us this way. We have spiritual needs to repent of our sins and be granted eternal life. We have material needs to address our physical needs in our everyday lives. We have emotional needs which must be acknowledged if we are to avoid giving the devil a foothold. Jesus met everyone at all three points. He didn’t just preach repentance but also cared about the physical and emotional needs of the people He was ministering to. As the church we can do no less. The key verse today is from Jesus preaching about the final judgment that is to come. They are verses we all know but need to reflect a bit more on. Feeding the hungry. Giving water to the thirsty. Caring for the stranger. Clothing the naked. Tending to the sick. Visiting the imprisoned. The number one theme in the Bible after salvation – taking care of those in need. The true calling of the church. The true ministry of Christ. As we look around today and see the great needs after the disaster of Hurricane Sandy let us see meeting these needs as the proper role of the church. Let us see them as a chance to minster to Christ Himself. As we do unto the least of these; the least of these.

    Rev. Anthony
  2. We are starting a free burger after church outreach this Sunday. We plan to do this every week for 2 months. see how it goes from there. One small step for man.

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