Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meeting physical and spiritual needs

A pastor recently told me that the role of the church is to provide spiritual nurture exclusively. He did not believe that the church ought to have day cares or food pantries nor allow such groups to share space. Some believe that ministry to the physical needs of a person interferes with ministry to spiritual needs.

On the other hand, Jesus found a way to do both. He fed the multitudes and called Himself the Bread of Life. He healed the sick and cast out demons. The Old Testament is filled with commands related to that care of the less fortunate.

The Bible says about Jesus, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:19-20

It is possible to tend to physical needs and ignore the spiritual but the Bible commands us to do both.

“If 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?” James 2:16

There are many churches in urban centers that are weak and dying. Some have soup kitchens and clothing distribution but fail to produce changed lives because they don't address the need for supernatural change. Others will focus on the supernatural but fail to reach a skeptical audience by ignoring the poverty, addiction and crime around them. The result in both cases is darkness and despair.

The light of the gospel will result in prisoners set free from their addictions, families reconciled, cycles of poverty broken by the power of Christ's work on the cross. That requires real help from the church and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...Romans 1:16

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