I was floored when I realized the many issues my community faces. My state tops the list of many national statistics…and not in a good way. Suffice it to say, we have our work cut out for us. Mississippi is the poorest state, the most obese state, and has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the nation.
In Matthew 19:21–22 we read, Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
No one is perfect as we well know, Christ certainly knew this too. However, in addition to all the things Jesus was trying to get across to the rich young ruler, (of which I will not try to cover all right now) one is that to give to the poor is the closest thing to perfection in this imperfect world, it is on earth as it is in heaven. It is the proof of the perfection of Jesus working in the lives of His church. It is proof that we have experienced the gospel. Why? Because the essence of the gospel is giving to the poor. In the gospel we see heaven pour itself out into the needs of the poor and destitute, humanity (2 Cor. 8:9). God didn’t hold anything back when it came to the salvation of humanity. He poured himself into the soil of human need. Therefore, if heaven gave infinitely to us through Christ, surely we can give a piece of ourselves to each other.
In order for the church to finish the work God has called us to finish. The church has to give more sacrificially to those in need. We have to be willing to pour ourselves out for people. Because heaven poured itself out for us. How often do we, as the rich young ruler did, just walk away with our heads down?
In his book Gospel, JD Greear says, “the presence of a healthy local church in the community is the greatest catalyst for the evangelization of that community”
We can certainly see that in Acts 2:45–47 (ESV) “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” When the church begins immersing itself into the needs of it’s community even our critics will say as Emperor Julian the Apostate in the 4th century said “These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also.”
Thirty-nine of the of the forty miracles in Acts happened outside of the church building, in the community. The church of Acts met the needs of the people in the community. Is your church meeting the needs of the people in the community? Maybe we aren’t seeing many miracles in the church because we aren’t serving the community in which our church is positioned. “He wants to demonstrate in our city that He is willing and able to save,” (Greear, Gospel).
I wonder how different these statistics might be if the church was more active in the community in which it resides. Christ calls to be a salt for society. Salt was used in Christ’s day as a way to preserve meat. Christ wants the church to be the preserving element within society.
I can’t get past the sobering reality of Matthew 25. That when Jesus describes the saved at the final judgement, at the coming of the Son of Man. When we see the fruits of those have truly accepted God’s grace. He doesn’t mention their church attendance, their diet, their modesty (all important, please don’t get me wrong). He doesn’t applaud their checklist morality. He simply asks, “what did you do for my children in need?”
Those who reject the privilege of fellowship with Christ in service, reject the only training that imparts a fitness for participation with Him in His glory.- Education
Copyright 2012 Richie Halversen