Thursday, June 25, 2009

Food baskets and gospel tracts

In the church I was raised in the preacher railed against 'them liberals' and their 'social gospel'. He went on to brag how we (the 'right' group) give a cup of cold water like they do, but we do it in "Jesus name".

Here's how it looks:

Never give out a water bottle without a verse on it.
Never give out a food basket without a gospel tract in it.
Never have a block party without preaching.
Never feed anyone who is hungry without making them listen to a sermon first.
And on and on....

I spend a lot of time thinking about what's behind all the flawed thinking we've grown up with. I've concluded that for the most part we meant well. We meant that just giving out stuff is social work not Christian ministry. Okay... the part I have a problem with is how we have decided "in Jesus name" equals the list above.

When Jesus fed the five thousand it was because they were hungry, when he healed the lepers it was because they had leprosy, when he made the blind man see it was because he was blind... He just loved people and helped them. Don't you think if you do something "in Jesus' name" it at least means to do it like he did it, with the same motives, with the same heart?

Having said that, if we relieve all the poverty and suffering in our city and then they go to hell, we would be totally unloving and unChristlike.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? So then, "we exist to relieve all suffering, especially eternal suffering" (Piper). Love demands as much, "in Jesus name" demands as much.

It really is okay to help someone without a sermon or a gospel tract. God says, "do good to all..." even Samaritans, even sinners, even the ones who won't thank you, even the ones who follow you only for food, even the ones who don't get saved or even care about God... yep, all of 'em.

That's just love...


6 - read/write comments:

Bubba McQueen said...

God is ultimately overseeing the process of evangelism in all our lives. Every person is at a unique place in their gradual awakening to the love of Christ. Random acts of love (even without words) draws everyone it touches closer to accepting Christ regardless of their personal situation. Love "without strings" can soften the hardest of hearts.

Bobby Roach said...

Amen, Amen, and Amen!!! Well said sir. "We" (meaning all us Christians), just need to love on folks and get outta the darn way sometimes and just follow His leading instead of sticking to our own crafted processes.

Anonymous said...

One of the beliefs posted on Crosswind's home page is meeting needs in Jesus name. Doesn't this blog contradict that belief?

Bobby Capps said...

No it just clarifies what we mean by it and what we don't.... ooops, must not have done too good a job. Sorry.

Vicki Roach said...

I am a preacher's kid of 55 years so I've spent my life in church. The preaching I sat under did none of the "railing" you mention. I've always been told I was a sinner saved by grace and that churches were not hotels for saints but hospitals for sinners. I've certainly never been told I was included in a "right group". I've been taught to give, love on and minister to because God desired to use my hands as His instrument---not because I was doing social work. As Christians we give from a loving heart in Jesus name so we aren't lumped into social work. Mark 9:41, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."

Bobby Capps said...

I raised preacher's kids who didn't hear that either.

Your comments raise an interesting question...
Is social work 'Christian'?
Is doing good for no reason other than to do good Godly? Christlike?
What if a lost person does good, is it still good?

I'll blog the answer soon.

Thanks for reading and for your comments.

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