Friday, September 22, 2006

I was hungry and you fed me...

How is a church supposed to be involved in a community?

What if a church were to do yard clean-ups this fall and rake leaves for free to anyone who asked? What if they were to put on free dinners for the homeless, go as a group to the public school events, and give an obscene amount of money to those in need? What if we offerred free tutoring for school kids and started a free preschool and free Daycare for working parents?

What if we took polls throughout the community and asked all 600 or so residents of Vanderbilt how the Community Church could minister to them and then as much as possible began meeting these needs?

Doesn't that sound like a great idea?

While those seem worthwhile in and of themselves, those methods lack one crucial component.

In the Bible, four friends brought their sick friend to Jesus. When the house Christ was in was too full, they climbed up on the roof and let their friend into the house by lowering him in on ropes. When Jesus sees the faith of these men He says something quite fascinating.

He tells the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."

This story in Mark 2 illustrates for us an important truth in Christianity. Man's greatest need is to have his sins forgiven. The purpose of the church is to glorify God by carrying out the great commission. Which states, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Matthew 28

Public service and meeting peoples needs is indeed a requirement of the church. Charity, feeding the hungary and warming the poor are essential ministries of the church. But we cannot stop there, we meet the physical needs of people so that we might meet their greater need of hearing obeying the gospel. The need to have their sins forgiven. We meet this need by proclaiming the gospel. Through the things we do and through the message we preach. We call this message the good news or the gospel.

I am all for community service and think our church should be aggressive in our efforts. But if we are only salt and never shine the light, we are not fulfilling the our commission.


toby said...

I don't think you can separate declaration and demonstration, Joe.

Paul told the Corinthians that he didn't come to them with fancy words, etc, but in the DEMONSTRATION of the Holy Spirit's power.

Declare and demonstrate seems to be the way of Jesus. When he sent out his disciples, he commissioned them to to this. He did the same with the 70.

I wouldn't try to make the distinction if I were you. It fogs things for people. The gospel was meant to be carried out through relationships. When you have earned the right to speak, your audience will hear.

"I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care."

Maybe if we thought of the gospel as something else besides a message our evangelism would reflect it.

The Kingdom has come!

Boanerges said...

My exact point is to not separate demonstration with declaration. Obviously, you cannot give a 3 hour gospel exposition to the lady whose yard you raked. But SOMETHING could be said. You could leave her some gospel literature, you could tell her why you raked her yard.

You could pray before 'civil duties' as a group and individually that God would use this to open a door for evangelism...SOMETHING. Some way to plant a seed that someone might come along later and water.

God gave the disciples the ability to heal and cast out demons so that they could speak of the forgiveness of sins. The purpose of those wonders was to validate the gospel message.

Jesus said in Mark 1:38 Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.

All the while he was having compassion, healing and ministering to needs. I agree with you, we should not separate them.