Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As I was reading forhissake’s scorching mini-sermon on pornography, which you must read if you haven’t, I also read another edifying post there; It deals with humanitarian and spiritual deeds. It prompted me to consider just what I do believe about this issue at this time in my life, so I collected some of my thoughts and decided to post them.

There’s been no small division in the Church regarding the importance of ministering spiritual things versus temporal things; it was a stirring issue thirty years ago in the U.S. The term for ministering temporal things, food, clothing, charitable giving as a generality, is called a “Social Gospel” whereas the opposite thought is, that without giving the Gospel to a soul, though you may alleviate a need, you leave them eternally lost, so what good have you done? I think that is a general summary of the two sides. In my estimation the importance of spiritual things became the dominate thought. In my experience, it swung so far that way that the practical deeds of charity fell to the wayside in many evangelical churches. I see in the Catholic Church a strong emphasis still put on these practical ministries.

For all practical purposes I approach this not so much from a theological position, but an experiential position. I believe each Christian has gifts and with those gifts the many ministries within the counsel and economy of God are emphasized. It is an individual calling sensitized by God. Not an either or, but rather a leaning one direction without the exclusion of the other, based on one’s gifts and callings.
For example, Billy Graham and his family members write, speak and preach with a focus on evangelism. If you read D.L. Moody, you will see the same emphasis, and I suspect just about all evangelists will hold a Christian view that centers on winning the lost.
On the opposite side would of course be Mother Teresa. Her writings, efforts and preaching focus on charity.
I think most of us agree that both Billy Graham and Mother Teresa have done much to further the Glory of God. But to try and untie the knots of who is greater in the Kingdom of God is a dispute I’m not interested in.
I have the same desires they both have burning in me, although in miniature, but with the gifts God has given me, Mother Teresa’s ministry draws my heart instantly and with far greater zeal.
It is so innate and a part of me that it goes without consideration but rather to imitation. The voice is so loud, and so clear, that there is no confusion or lack of clarity. Now I do not think for a minute that this is a ‘planet sprout’, but rather heaven birthed, because of the simple fact that when my heart goes through seasons of coldness or withering, the burden and motivation leaves proportionately. The closer I draw to God the louder this burden calls to me. Not a matter of volition, but it is an involuntary happening, which I contribute to the working of the Holy Spirit within me.
So, I follow what I consider to be my calling, and I see other’s working out their gifts from God in differing ministries and concerns. I believe this is how the whole council of God leavens the earth. One, like Paul says, “Woe unto me if I do not preach the gospel”, another says, “Woe unto me if I do not feed the hungry.”

To what end, you may ask, do we do these ministries? We worship God with our gifts so that He may be glorified and His Kingdom on earth will increase.

One may ask, “What good are good deeds done without the goal of conversion in sight?” Many, in every way. Good works are good, whether done by a Christian or a non-believing person. It seems apparent to me that God designed us to be internally rewarded when we do acts that are charitable and kind. Our conscience direct us towards God’s moral law and so we know that aside from faith these things are pleasing to God because they perpetuate His nature and His will is furthered, albeit temporal and we have no proof that these would lead one to an eternal state, but certainly in this life, a more blessed state. We are told that every good and perfect gift comes from God so it appears to me that through the emotional motivations he has knitted into the mind of man a way He can, through common graces, bless mankind. Jesus teaches us that God is kind to the wicked, and I think it is safe to say that even the wicked, although they will not gain eternal life, can be kind.
Now an unbeliever may do humanitarian works without a concern for God, but unwittingly, they are doing the will of God, because God is love and he is good.
So I am happy whenever I see a person do anything that is good.

On the flip side, when a Christian does good works it pleases God and gains reward, unless we offer it as to merit salvation, which then turns them to filthy rags.

When you read my blog you will see an emphasis on humanitarian deeds simply because this is my gifting and calling. It is my hope that those with differing gifts will be reminded and encouraged to do these practical deeds, as I am sure when they speak or write they would wish to stir me up to not neglect other deeds.
I think 2 Peter 1:5-10 summarizes this thought, or at least the way I relate to it.

I think an important part of this is to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing. I have seen those that were not qualified to teach, hold the position; I have heard those preach, who had need of a qualified teacher.
We want to use care that we make a name for Christ and not a shame for Christ.

Photo from the internet


Mel said...

What a well-thought-out, honest, transparent, well balanced and God-inspired post! I also read the post on D.L.'s blog and thought it had a lot of merit as well. I could totally see where D.L.'s heart was coming from, and I believe that God causes and allows some people to feel particularly passionate towards one end of the spectrum and then allows other people to balance it out by feeling particularly passionate in the other direction.

What we know for sure is that He is good, that everything good comes from Him (as you said) and that everything fits into the plan somewhere, and for me the most important part to remember is to trust Him and rely on Him completely, even when and especially when things don't seem to make sense.

I doubly appreciate this post because it poses answers to questions that I've had for a long time, some of them that hadn't even made it into concious thought yet, but had been lurking somewhere beneath the surface. These answers make sense to me and I believe the Spirit resonates in agreement with many of them.

So, again, thank you, Fred. You are a true blessing.

FCB said...

Hi Mel,
Wow, what a glowing report, I appreciate it and it makes me happy that it spoke to you.
That of course is why I blog, in hopes that the pieces I choose will inspire. You are a blessing as well Mel,