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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Faithful servant?

Today I had an interesting but short conversation about being a Christian. The conversation was about serving the poor, orphans and widows. Both view points are by Christians.
My point is Christians cannot ignore the poor, orphans and widows. As Christians we are called to actively care for them. The other point of view is- as Christians helping the poor, orphans and widows is optional. Our primary responsibility is to share that Jesus died for our sins.

After I hung up the phone I thought about what was just said. How could we have such a different view? I know that not everyone is suppose to adopt a child. I know that each one of us is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We aren't suppose to DO something just because it's a good thing to do... I know that I am suppose to step out in faith, even if it's not comfortable. I don't always get it right the first or second time. I wondered, could I be wrong? Am I making this all up because I WANT to believe we are suppose to care for the hurt, hungry, poor, orphaned and widowed? Is it optional?

I did not go to seminary and below is what I (Candy) believe is true.
I opened up my bible and looked up a few scriptures that came to mind. The first one is Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

I let these words sink in for a few minutes. "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

The way I read this, it does not it sound like caring for the least of these is optional.

The another Scripture that came to mind was the Good Samaritan, Luke 10-25-37.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

When I read: Jesus said, "Go and do likewise." I hear that we are suppose to "go" and "do". I hear him saying. "love your neighbor as yourself." That doesn't sound optional to me.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

There are several other verses that stand out but I won't list them here for now.

I will be praying that there will be another conversation. Not a conversation where someone is right or wrong but one where the focus is what Jesus said.


V said...

agreed. I don't really see how anyone can think it is optional if they have actually read through the Bible. Besides those scriptures there is a TON of other stuff that deals with that issue. I will have to find where it is, but I remember a passage that even goes so far to compare those who do not look after orphans, widows, the poor etc to some serious sins such as murder, etc....

Anonymous said...

Of course we should help the poor. But we will always have the poor with us according to Jesus. It seems to me to be more important to give them the gospel and save their souls from hell then to give them a bowl of soup. But of course it would be even better to do both. Jesus also said to sell all you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Should we do that? or was that metaphorical?

Rob and Candy said...

My point is - if we are a Christian we should ACTIVELY take care of the poor, widows and orphans. The other person's point is that it is optional and I do not believe that it is.
I do believe that we should share the gospel.
It's not either take care of the poor (etc) OR share the gospel. You do both.

Re: Matthew 19:21
I like this commentary-
He felt that Jesus had asked too much of him. He worshiped money more than God when put to the test. Does Jesus demand this same test of every one? Not unless he is in the grip of money. Different persons are in the power of different sins.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we should care for orphans, widows, the poor, etc. It is not clear to me how this is to be done though. If we sell everything and give to the poor, that would help some of them for a little while. But then we would be among the poor and someone would have to take care of us. And the poor we helped would eventually be poor again having not learned to care for themselves. No?

Perhaps the person who thought it was optional had similar concerns?

Rob and Candy said...

I'm sorry you must have misunderstood me. Only when your riches are your idol should you sell everything.
I will pray that the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart on how to serve orphans, widows and the poor. He will direct you.
thanks for your comments
grace & peace to you.

Anonymous said...

Money doesn't control me much. But I wouldn't have anyway to eat without it. I'm cursed to be living in a society with fast food and the one-eyed devil in the living room.

Do we go to places where help is needed out of our guilt? The evil white man keeps you in poverty with his internal combustion engine. (Oh and did I mention we flew there using such carbon-emitting machinery). Maybe we could provided them something to eat. Maybe they can't read. Can we teach them to read?

Or maybe we should be looking where we are. Soup kitchen, reading English class, bar of soap, Jesus. Yes of course Jesus. We don't want to feed and then send away (bye-bye-white-man-feel-better-now).

V said...

James 2:14

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

beBOLDjen said...

Oh I have gone around and around on this issue with friends.

I suppose, as the anonymous commenter mentioned, some may give and serve out of guilt but I don't think it would last long as those motives are selfish and it's much easier to be unabashidly selfish and self concerned than it is to keep up the guise.

I don't see a distinction between meeting physical needs and the sharing of the Gospel. I do not think they are mutually exclusive at all. James ch 2 is my go-to chapter for this.

The other verses you mentioned in Matt are the ones I love to highlight. Because, for me, any offering I make to those in needs is out of the overflow of my love for Jesus(it OUGHT to be anyway).

BTW the notion that there will always be poor among us isn't stated by Christ so that we wouldn't really worry about the poor! If you look into the OT the provision, if people would have done what it said they would have eradicated destitution (note: destitution NOT equal living standards for all). NT demands we live as Christ giving OUR ALL as He gave His all. The fact that there will always be poor among us isn't a statement that somehow God is okay with that!!! The statement is simply a sad commentary on our selfish inability to give out of our abundance to be sure He who has little does not have TOO little. Beside Christ wasn't addressing their service to the poor in that passage; he was telling them to focus on HIM.

A fair warning to those of us who claim to go out and serve others. Are we really focused on Chrsit? Are we connecting to a cause to connect to Christ? Or are we connecting to Christ merely to connect to and further our own causes?

Rob and Candy said...

Jen- I love you what you wrote!
V- thanks for the Verses!