Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ministry to the poor

A repost from years ago:

"The church is not an organization, but a company of people who lay down their lives for others. And as we catch God's heart and understand His compassion, He will lead us in ministry to the poor." - John Wimber

I am very aware of how great God is and how fortunate I am that He has chosen to allow me to part of the outworking of His Kingdom.

I get encouraged when I think of the following words by Basil of Caesarea in the 4th century:
A man who has two coats or two pairs of shoes when his neighbor has none has his neighbor’s coat and shoes. It evidences a lack of grace in his life. The redistribution of wealth is in no wise to the point. The revealing of faith is the point.
We do not simply redistribute wealth. Anyone can do that. Socialism does that. We do much more. When we understand the Kingdom of God, when we trust our Father completely as our provider, when we know His heart of compassion, etc., then we can do nothing other than to give freely and to give abundantly.

Later in the same century, John Chrysostom said:
The essence of the Gospel is not concern for the poor but it certainly provokes that concern. In fact, without that concern, the essence of the Gospel surely has not been grasped.
Do you grasp the Gospel? If so, how is that manifesting itself in your life?

When John’s disciples came to Jesus to ask if he was the one who is to come, Jesus replied, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Lk 7.22) The poor have good news preached to them!

In Lk 4.43, Jesus said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God … for I was sent for this purpose.” And later in that same chapter Luke writes that Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that same Spirit that was upon Him to demonstrate and proclaim the Kingdom of God, is upon His disciples today. This is why James is able to write in chapter 2, verse 16, “one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” The Kingdom is more than words. It is compassion and power.

I look forward to God's manifest presence among the poor and I pray His Spirit would increase my faith to proclaim Him with boldness and authority.

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