|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Change can be good for you”
Our Bible verse for today: “And if you offer yourself to (assist) the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” Isaiah 58:10 (Amplified Bible)
Our thought for today: “Account for both sides of the grave”
In his book “Freedom of Simplicity” Richard Foster wrote, “Many today have been given a one-sided Gospel, a message offering Good News for salvation in the life to come without addressing human needs here and now. No, we need to proclaim a Good News that embraces both sides of the grave.”
I think Foster addressed a problem that has afflicted far too many of our churches for far too long. Many of our churches are predominately inward-focused. The overwhelming majority of their time, attention, and resources are focused on what occurs inside the walls of the church buildings. It’s all about worship services, Sunday school and small groups, fellowship events, building maintenance, etc. And on those rare occasions when a few of the members may engage in a church-sponsored event outside the walls of the church which is designed to minister to the lost, often it consists of knocking on doors to share the plan of salvation, or passing out tracks, or something along those lines.
Those activities are all good and needed and I don’t mean to suggest that they should stop. Afterall, discipleship is the primary purpose of the local church. We do need to take care of, teach, and equip believers. And evangelism of the lost is of course crucial too. But compassion ministry is important as well and unfortunately, meeting the physical needs of hurting and suffering people out in the world is often an aspect of church ministry that doesn’t occupy very much space in the life of the average church. That shouldn’t be the case. As Isaiah 58:10 reminds us, it has always been God’s desire for His people to be out in the world providing help and assistance to those in physical need. That’s when our light really shines. That kind of compassion ministry is a very effective springboard for then sharing the Gospel.
One of the positive changes I’ve been seeing during this COVID 19 pandemic and the resulting economic shut-down, is that churches are much more engaged in compassion ministry outside the walls of their church buildings than ever before. This is a good thing and I hope it continues after the pandemic is over. In Acts 1:8 Jesus taught that we are to be on-mission with Him out in the world. It’s my prayer that out of this bad set of circumstances God will bring a very good and much needed change in the life of the average church. We need to be much more intentional about addressing people’s needs on both sides of the grave – their needs for the life to come, but their needs in this life too.
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