Chicken Poop From the Soul

If you have not read “Chicken Poop For the Soul” … look for yesterday’s blog (non-apostolic trip blog)…

Much of what goes on in the Church today is chicken poop for the soul. It is fluffy, superficial and not supernatural, powerless to transform lives and somewhat irrelevant. But like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books it sounds good, smells good and tastes good to the soul. However, the spirit person meanwhile is malnourished and slowly dying.

In the Church today there is too much soul realm ministry – both for the soul of those receiving ministry and from the soul of those ministering. This is so evident in the area of the prophetic.

When ministering prophetically we need to hear God who is Spirit (John 4) in our spirit where the Holy Spirit lives. Too many people ministering in the prophetic hear God in their soul realm – their mind, their will and their emotions. There they will receive mixed messages – God’s Word mixed with their feelings, their thoughts, their agenda for the Church or for the perspon being ministered to. However, if a person hears God in their spirit then this Word is a pure Word when received. It will be a powerful word from the Lord and not simply more chicken poop for the soul and from the soul.

Of course, a Word of the Lord received in one’s spirit then needs to move from our spirit through our soul (mind, will, and emotions) without being contaminated. Otherwise it will be simply chicken poop – as your mind must take what your spirit has received and speak it out with words not accurately representing what the Lord is attempting to communicate. Secondly, the Word will not be spoken correctly without your will’s involvement because you have to decide to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and speak. And, your emotions will be involved because what you are feeling (nervous, scared, over-confident) will effect how you deliever what the Lord is saying. If your mind, will and emotions (your soul) is damaged and not healthy – Chicken poop from the soul.

So, your will needs to be submittd to God’s will – otherwise chichen poop from the soul. And it is not just your will located in your soul realm because John, chapter one tells us there is a will of God, a will of the flesh, and the will of man (soul realm). So, your flesh’s will must also be submitted to the will of God.

And, your emotional realm needs to be submitted to God as well – with all unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, offenses and other emotional clutter dealt with or else these things will contaminate the Word that you received and when you give it it will be chicken poop from the soul.

Your mind also needs to have renewed and even transformed by God’s Word (Romans 12:1-2) so that your thoughts are His thoughts and you have the mind of Christ. Otherwise when the Word you received is translated into words in your mind it will become simply more chicken poop from the soul.

Regretfully, in the realm of the prophetic today in the Church there is little really valid prophetic ministry and a lot of chicken poop from the soul because believers are not taking the time to deal with soul realm issues – issues of their feelings, their thought life, their emotional and spiritual baggage, their own unforgiveness and bitterness… and so, instead of a pure Word from the Lord you just have more chicken poop from the soul joining all the other chicken poop coming form the pulpit and elsewhere.

And, man does not live on chicken poop but on spiritual bread from the heart and hand of God. It is time to judge the prophetic and be much more discerning regarding what is being spoken as a “Word of the Lord” in the church and the nations today. There is a serious need for more spirit realm and less soul realm ministry.

Chicken Poop For the Soul

Much of what goes on in the Church today is chicken poop for the soul. It is fluffy, superficial and not supernatural, powerless to transform lives and somewhat irrelevant. But like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books it sounds good, smells good and tastes good to the soul. However, the spirit person meanwhile is malnourished and slowly dying.

You have to wonder some Sundays after the service if God is still into that stuff that Jesus did in the New Testament. You know, when miracles were normal and part of every day life. As I was thinking about this the Lord asked me a question. When the Lord asks you a question He is not looking for information, He is wanting to show you something, teach you something. He asked me if I was living with such reckless faith that I needed to see miracles every day? Gotcha ya!

If we get sick, we go to a doctor. If we need food, we go to the store and buy it. We have no money, we use our credit cards. We have eliminated the need for miracles. If we had enough faith to depend on God like the lilies and the sparrows do, we would see miracles. But we live a lifestyle that doesn’t need God until an emergency or serious crisis arises and then we cry out to Him asking for His help.

Never mind that the crisis is a result of our own action and behavior; that we are simply reaping what we have sown; that we are suffering the consequences of our neglect of our spiritual health. And, then when God doesn’t answer immediately and get us out of the mess we lose faith. Duh! You didn’t have any faith to lose in the first place as you were most likely living according to the world or your flesh and doing your own thing without God … no faith there. So, no faith to lose.

A thought: maybe the mess you got yourself in can be used by God to teach you to put your faith in Him first. Just a thought!

To see miracles, signs and wonders and get out from under all the poop we need to live by faith, walk by faith, believe in faith, be empowered by faith … Jesus said, “Be it done unto you according to your faith.” (Matthew 9:29) Another version states, “Become what you believe.” This is so true. Faith is not an emergency switch we pull to prevent a train wreck – it is a simple, daily way of life that must become as natural as breathing. When it becomes just that – a way of daily life – we will get out from underneath all the chicken poop (the natural, soul-realm and flesh) and actually see the supernatural happen and the real life of God manifest itself.

I, for one, am tired of the poop I see in the Church today and have had enough. It is time for change.

My Personal Dissatisfaction

I am personally dissatisfied with cultural Christianity – Canadian Christianity, American Christianity, or Eastern Europe Christianity. Totally dissatisfied. And my dissatisfaction has not come because all of a sudden I am going “secular’ or ‘liberal.’ I became dissatisfied by studying and plunging into what the earliest Christians called “the Way.” You know, the way of Jesus, the way of the cross, and the way of the Kingdom.” (Shane Claiborne – Urban Monk)

I read that comment on a recent flight to somewhere. It is part of a great book called “The Irresistible Revolution- Living As An Ordinary Radical.” An excellent read and well worth the investment of time and money. Powerful book, life-changing, gripping, moving, thought-provoking. Not a book to read if you are comfortable with the way things are in your life and your walk with Jesus. But, if you know there has to be more – you pray that this is not all that there is to this thing called Christianity – then this is your book.

The way of Jesus – is not the way of the Church. In fact, I wonder, at times, if Church people really know the real Jesus … not just church-goers but even born again believers. Have we encountered the real Jesus or simply a “plastic” version that is really a god of our own making that allows us to comfortable and complacent? I believe that the Jesus most people worship and adore at a distance is “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). So, we cannot follow the ‘way of Jesus’ if we are not following Jesus. And, if we are not evangelizing and talking to others about the Lord then we are not following the real Jesus because He said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Not fishing – not following. So, to follow the ‘way of Jesus’ we need to see and follow the real Jesus and not the well known and familiar religious Jesus.

The way of the cross – Now, here’s something that is ignored or forgotten quickly when heard…”take up your cross and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) To carry one’s cross – whatever that may be defined as – (and the scholars don’t always agree) is something that seems to be ignored and simply not accomplished. Crosses are difficult, annoying, heavy, even visible. We don’t like this because ‘visible’ means we often stand out and appear different and many want to simply blend in and not be noticed. Listen carefully: true believers are noticed and are annoying at the best of times. As they carry their cross they remind us of another world, another plan, another way of life. And that visual reminder goes right to the heart and brings conviction. That is what we are to do – carry the cross and be different so we can be salt and light in the world.

The way of the Kingdom – Now here is a big one. The Kingdom we walk in and that is in us (Romans 14:17) is not of this world as Jesus said. Yet, many live in the domaine of darkness (the world’s kingdom) and live the way the world lives – enjoying sin for a season. The way of the Kingdom is upside down to the ways of the world. Is your personal private world upside down to the world? Is the way you express your inside world – your lifestyle – represent and look like the way of the world or does it really represent the way of the Kingdom – the way Jesus calls us to live? Only you (and those who are not saved and know you) can answer that. Have a look at your Facebook account…look any different than that of your friends who are not believers? Anything up there on your wall that you should be ashamed of as a believer and Christ-follower?

The way of Jesus. The way of the cross. The way of the Kingdom. Which way are you walking? Which way are you heading? What are you embracing?

People Are Afraid to Be Amazing

In our world and in the Church culture of our day people are afraid to be themselves. They are afraid to be who God created them to be. They are nervous about being different than everyone else and marching to the beat of a different drum. They do not express their uniqueness but rather buy in to a certain lifestyle that appears inviting and then they do everything they can to be the same as others living in that lifestyle – to fit in and be one of the “crowd.”

Example: Teenagers and guys in their early twenties worldwide wear oversized blue jeans that slide down over their backsides revealing their multi-colored boxer undershorts for the world to see. It is the same in every nation. People needing to or wanting to fit into a certain group and therefore not expressing their uniqueness as God would want them to – asks them to – needs them to.

Every one of us has been created by God to be unique and different then the others around us. We were created by God to be unique and to do amazing things for Him. But most are afraid to be different and unique and go against the flow. Therefore most never do anything amazing in and with their lives.

Most people are too concerned with what others will think – as if they really do think about you in a normal day. Many don’t want to be different because then they will stand out and might be noticed. Penelope Trunk wrote in one of her books “People are afraid to be amazing.” I agree. Because we don’t express ourselves and the unique person we really are – there has never been anyone like you on the face of the planet and never will be another like you – then we are not and can’t be amazing.

To be amazing you need to know who you really are. Not who you have become to fit in with the crowd you hang out with and relate to. Not who you are in your chosen lifestyle that you worked so hard to reach and now bust your butt to maintain. Not the “you” that changes depending on the expectations of the people you are currently interacting with. Not the person who is defined by the way you dress and where you live and the type of car you drive.

To be amazing you need to know the real you that is hiding inside – the unique person that God created in His image and that is a unique expression of God’s character and nature upon the earth.

But then we are faced with a bit of a problem. To express who we really are and thus be unique and amazing we need to take the time to come to know the real person on the inside; the essence of who you uniquely are as originally created by God. You will need to remove socially acceptable behavior, the expectations you have of yourself and that others have of you; you will need to remove the various masks that you wear in each situation; you will need to unlock the doors of your heart and come to know yourself; you will need to examine your life and discover new things about the real and unique you. Then – and only then – will the hard work begin.

The hard work is to then change the outside to match what you have discovered and uncovered about who you really are. To have integrity you will need to begin to adjust, remove, and change many things in your life and lifestyle to better express the real you, the unique you, the amazing you that you have now uncovered and discovered. Only the really brave need apply as this will, of course, not be easy. As soon as you start this process you will find yourself no longer “floating downstream” with all the other dead fish but you will find yourself discovering real life as you swim upstream and go against the flow.

But, as you begin to change the outside to match the newly discovered and unque inside you will become the amazing person that God designed you to be. And, you will then begin to do amazing things for God as well.

This is why God created you – to be the you no one else can be – because the world needs the real you, the amazing you!

Tiptoe Through Life? Never!

A college professor once said to his students (true story) “All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.”

The youth today want more than to tiptoe through life; more than what the average church (and especially a normal youth group) offers them. They want to be trusted with the adventure of revolutionary living. However, what is offered is often so far from what is the biblical norm that it is seriously boring and the youth are seriously bored.

God forgive us for all those we have lost because we have made the gospel boring. Shane Claiborne states, “I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army.”

But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death? They simply respond to it by leaving as quickly as they can – permanently most times – leaving the church of their youth and the Christian faith it supposedly represents.

Where did this notion of playing it safe ever come from? Whoever said that Christianity is safe? Why do we think that Christians should be good upstanding citizens of whatever society and culture they live in? The more I get to know Jesus, the more trouble He seems to get me into. Soren Kierkegaard puts it well: “To want to admire, instead of follow, Christ is not an invention of bad people; no, it is more an invention of those who spinelessly want to keep themselves detached at a safe distance from Jesus.”

Some believers take so few risks, it’s no wonder folks have a hard time believing in Heaven. Most of us live in such fear of death that it’s as if no one really believes in resurrection anymore. Give some thought to what I believe is a fact: “The most dangerous place for a Christian to be is in safety and comfort.” I have found that to be true in my own life. The youth of today are also discovering this truth.

So, if you are finding Church on Sundays and mid-week Bible study boring – you know, the same-old, same-old – then it is time to take a look into your own heart. You are not responsible to change the Church. It belongs to Jesus and He is already making massive changes to very foundational elements of our corporate life and expression. You need to look into your own heart and mind and examine your own life to see what you need to change about you.

Have you settled for a safe religion instead of a dynamic faith walk with Jesus that leads to daily adventures?

Have you purchased your fire insurance and “get out of jail free” card and, since that day, have simply been cruising? [Remember, dead fish float downstream]

When was the last time you challenged yourself to grow in your own personal faith and, as a result, made some substantial and life-changing adjustments to the way you approach and live out the Christian faith?

When was the last time you did something a little bit risky and maybe even bordering on dangerous?

What has changed recently in your faith that has both excited and challenged you?

What are you doing that makes you radically different than those who are your friends and work mates who are not believers?

It seems like we think that we can cruise along in safe mode – and this means that everything is cool. Cool is simply another word for lukewarm (an old-fashion way of saying “cool”) and Jesus would rather you be either hot or cold but never lukewarm. It is not cool for Christians to be cool (Revelation 3:16). We are to be passionate, white-hot, engaged, radical, revolutionary, anti-status quo. Jesus was never normal or cool.

A French theologian Jacques Ellul once said, “Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society.”

Jesus was called a lot of things but never cool. You don’t get crucified for being cool; you get crucified for living radically different from the norms of all that is cool in the world.

Should you choose to change your lifestyle somewhat and no longer be cool just remember it was the cool (everything is alright) religious leaders and the cool politicians who killed Jesus. But, don’t let that stop you. Remember, there is a resurrection and Heaven is real and does exist – and boring is simply not suppose to be part of the faith, the Church, or your life.

The With and the Without Principle

There is an old African saying:We are, therefore I am.” I like that. It expresses the very life and nature of the Christian faith and the Christian Church. Because, as I have mentioned in the last few days we only find our true identity in Jesus Christ when we are connected to the Christian community – in particular, one local church.

The US army captures this thought with their current advertising campaign for new recruits: “An army of one.” And, the Body of Christ is called, in Scripture, an army of the Lord and we are a singular “body” even though we are found in different local expressions (assemblies) in every nation on the planet we call home. The Christian faith is about community – connectedness – and being there with and for one another. And, once that is established and settled – being there for those who do not know Jesus because then we are a correct witness of the experience of being a believer.

If your witness is simply to explain a set of teachings and beliefs – then you have missed the point. As you are with people and building relationships you will be inviting them into an experience – an experience of the living God as found only in Jesus and His body, the Church. So, you need to be connected in a healthy and dynamic way first before you can invite them to share what you have – a personal and corporate experience of God. “We are, therefore I am.” An army of one!

As believers we should be with non-believers and other believers in community with Christ. With them in love and care, without judgment. With them in encouragement and comfort, without condition. With them in support and healing, without self concern. Shane Claiborne writes: “Community is what we are created for. We are made in the image of a God who is community, a plurality of oneness. When the first human was made, things were not good until there were two, helping one another. The biblical story is the story of community, from beginning to end. Jesus lived and modeled community with His little band of disciples. He always sent them out in pairs, and the early church is the story of a people who were together and were of one heart and mind, sharing all in common. The story ends with a vision of a new community in the Book of Revelation where the city of God is dressed beautifully for her lover, this community called the New Jerusalem.”

Augustine – a great man in the early church stated, “If you see authentic relationship among two people on this earth, you have a glimpse of the Trinity.” Makes you want to do more than believe – makes you want to belong to this dynamic and eternal family called the Church. The door is open – come on in. You will never be complete until you do.

What Do We Offer the World?

The challenge of the church in the 21st century is to make itself less of an institution and more of a community…less led by people prone to call a meeting than by people prone to start a conversation. Let’s admit it – basically the church has only two things to offer the world: Christ and community.

By Christ we mean Jesus Christ who is God and came to reveal the Father to His people. We mean Jesus who said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The only way into Heaven after death. We mean Jesus who died for our sins and then invited us to receive His forgiveness for those sins and to enter into a relationship with Him – which is really a relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. This is a supernatural relationship with the Holy Trinity. He invites us into “community.”

By community we must mean something different than Facebook community … better words: connectedness and relationships. But, not just a relationship with a heavenly community (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) but also an earthly community called the Church. According to the Bible there is no such thing as being a Christian and not belonging to and being connected to a local church. We are, each one of us, members of the Body of Christ and the member of the body cannot survive without the body. Therefore, if you are a believer and are not interconnected with other believers in one local assembly of believers – accountable, functioning, responsible – then you a member who is AWOL and you will simply die out there disconnected.

The Christian faith is all about being connected – not disconnected. It is more than believing it is belonging. Only in relationships do we discover God in His fullness. Only in relationship do we discover what it means to be fully human. Only in relationship do we discover who we really are. Relationship precedes identity – always has, even when you were a little baby. As you identified with your father and mother you found identity – discovering yourself and who you really are. A life-long process of course but always located within relationships.

So it is with the Christian when we are born again. Only in relationships do we truly find our identity as a believer and as a member of the Body of Christ. So “withness” is vitally important. It was to Jesus as He immediately called together “His church” consisting of a leadership team of 12 and followers numbering up over 600 at one time. He was with them sharing life. We, as believers today, must be with other believers sharing the same life – the life and nature of God as found only in Jesus Christ. Withness before witness – then you have something to share – the Gospel and yourself because you will have come to know the real you as found only in withness.

So, please – if you are prompted to witness about your faith and yet are not connected in healthy relationships with other believers in a local church – sit down and shut up. Do us all a favour and don’t tell others you are a born again believer. After all, you are not a good example of what being a Christian is all about and you need to focus on your own life and relationship first. Hard to invite someone to experience something you are not (and maybe never have) experienced.

Truth Or Consequences!

Today truth is whatever you make it – or so it seems. We no longer believe that the Bible is true. Regretfully many churches have taught their leaders this falsehood. And the leaders have taught their people the same garbage. I know, I was one of those taught that the Bible is simply a myth and was good for when the human race was less evolved and somewhat scientifically stupid or unknowledgeable. But now that we have science we know that the stories in the Bible simply are not true and therefore the Bible is not truth.

So people today scramble to create their own truth – some elements of their turth is home grown, some borrowed, some biblical, some belonging to other religions and philosophies, and some even picked up from cultural norms and the media. Thus, when a true believer declares the Bible to be absolute truth and Jesus to be that truth personified (John 1:17), in other words the Truth (capital “T”) we are considered narrowminded, deceived and antiquated.

An interesting survey – about eight months ago – came up with these findings…

The percentage of people of different age groups who say they agree with the statement that the Bible, the Quran and the Book of Mormon offer the same spiritual truths:
Ages 18 to 25 who are known as the Mosiacs – 56%
Ages 26 to 44 who are known as the Busters – 43%
Ages 45 to 63 who are known as the Boomers – 45%
Ages 64 and up who are known as the Elders – 33%
(Source: Barna Group)

In other words – the older you are the more likely it is that you believe the Bible is our source of truth. The younger you are the more likely it is that you will consider it one of a number of sources of truth. This means the Christian Church is slowly losing ground with each succeeding generation and this current generation just might be the last generation of the Christian faith.

Folks, the Bible, the Quran and the Book of Mormon are in direct contradiction to each other. To believe the teachings of the one means you cannot believe the teachings of the other. Each has a different view of who Jesus really is. Each has a different understanding of our Heavenly Father – God the Creator. They just don’t mesh together and cannot all contain truth – let alone the same spiritual truths. The younger the generation the more decieved they are. The truth is fading fast and the Bible as the standard for truth and as the authority for life is apparently almost gone.

This is true even among born again believers who say they believe the Bible, hold it to contain the truth, and know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Do they apply the truth to their lives – no! Then they don’t believe it is the truth. Do they adjust their lives to the Word of God? No! Then they don’t believe it is the truth. Do they obey the Word and what it states we, as believers, are to do? No! Then we don’t believe it is the truth. Oh, it may contain some truth but we have the final say about what is truth for us and what is not. Then the Bible is no longer the authority in your life – you are.

Of course, not believing the truth as found in the Scriptures results in some rather severe consequences (see the above picture). Afterall, God still believes it is truth and the only standard upon which to build a life pleasing to Him. And pleasing Him is a good thing. Build your life on truth and you build upon a rock. Build it upon what you personally determine to be the truth and you build it upon sand and suffer the consequences. Truth or consequences – your choice!

I choose truth – the Truth!

No Super-Christians Please!

There is a change needed in the Church today. We need to place a big sign over the door that states, “No Perfect People Allowed.” Why? Because so many of the people attending your church would like you to believe that they are alright and have it all together when really they are dying inside and not doing well spiritually, financially, or relationally.

And a vast majority of the people who don’t attend your church stay away because they think they need to clean up their act and get it all together before they would be welcomed in your fellowship. Somehow we leave that impression with people as we interact with them on a daily basis. So, we need a sign that states that people who are not perfect are more than welcome and, in fact, encouraged to be a part of what God is doing – assuming, of course, that God is doing something in your church.

When I read the two letters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians it becomes very evident very quickly that this church did not have it all together. They had some serious things that needed to be adjusted and changed – and changed quickly. However, God was with them and their services had the gifts of the Holy Spirit flowing, and non-believers were attending and being convictd of their sins by the power of the Holy Spirit. They knew they were not perfect and that there was a great deal wrong with them still and apparently were not afraid of others finding that out about them. This became a sign to others that everyone was welcome but that no perfect people were allowed.

People today are looking for spiritual answers because they are recognizing that their problems in daily life are spiritual and not physical or social. They are looking for a place to ask their questions, express their doubts, and journey with others who are also searching but have found some of the answers already. They are looking for a local church that has the following characteristics:

1> They are willing to dialogue and discuss the Bible, the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, and how it all works in life today. The want to know that those who attend are on a journey – the same journey they are on – and that they are welcome to join us on the road even if they are not quite at the spot where we are on the road…and that they are free to question and discuss even the basics of the Christian faith and no one will be offended or become defensive.

2> They are authentic. People today are looking for a church where the members are real and not ‘plastic.’ A place where people are loved. A place where they can be themselves and not be judged or condemned by the words and actions of the members. A place where sinners are welcome and people can be honest and open about what they are going through or living with.

3> They are accepting. People want to belong to a church where they will know that they are accepted for who they are, how they live, dress, talk, and think. Where dress codes and outward appearance are not important because people are looking at the heart and not outward appearances.

4> They are growing spiritually. People today want a church that will accept them where they are on their journey towards faith in Christ but will also encourage them on their journey and help them to grow and walk in the fullness God intends for them.

5> They speak the truth but in love and with humility. People are really looking for truth today and have yet to realize that truth is found only in Jesus. So, the church today needs to speak the truth in love but it also needs to live the truth. Jesus came and lived among us to reveal the Father. We call this the Incarnation. People today are looking for churches where the truth is incarnational – lived out in every day life.

6> They have hope. People today are short on hope. They live in the present with little to no hope for the future. And, without hope in the future there is no power in the present. So, the church needs to be a place of optimism and hope. People need to know they can change and that things will get better as they walk with believers and come to know the Lord better.

7> They are connected to each other and live life as a big family. People want to be connected and to have a sense or feeling of belonging to something greater than themselves.
People are looking for a place to belong and interact with people on a level that they are comfortable with. This is why social networks like Facebook have become so popular so fast. The church needs to a place where people can connect and belong, feel safe to ask their questions, be free to be themselves, and find more than tolerance – find acceptance.

8> They believe in equipping and training people. Today a church needs to be a place where people can come and be equipped and trained for life and ministry. Not a place where professional do their thing up front and the people watch – but a place where everyone can become involved and learn how to minister and walk supernaturally so as to fulfill the calling that is on every believer’s life.

Much change is needed – we need a culture in the church that welcomes change. Change needs to be constant as we enter a new decade (2011 to 2020) of service for the Lord and reach the people who are without Christ but who are searching for the truth that is found only in Him.

Give It Some Thought, Please!

The governor of Mississippi once challenged each of the state’s 5,500 churches and synagogues to help one poor family to get back on its feet. That’s all – just take on one family. Only 267 took up the challenge. Within a few years, when they checked back, a mere 15 churches were still doing it and were matched with families who they were helping to get established again.

Surveys and statistics show that evangelical Christians are “significantly less likely” than are non-Christians to give money for AIDS education and prevention programs worldwide. And, of course, how often are Christians noted for their courageous defence of unpopular causes? Really very seldom.

Jesus said that we are to help those who are less fortunate than we are. We are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit those in prison. (Matthew 25:31-46) He states that even a drink of cold water in His Name He will remember and reward. (Mark 9:41). The Good News is to be preached to the poor (Matthew 11:5) and must be done in a combination of words and deeds to fully preach the Gospel (Romans 15:18-19). This task does not end because Jesus said that “the poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7) and so the work and the ministry to the poor will be a continual focus.

As I travel overseas I have come to redefine the term “poor.” In some places where I minister even those who are well off are not doing as well as the poor here in our nation. They are simply living one day at a time and eating one meager meal a day. They do not have a social welfare net to catch them nor a governmental system to aid them when they become unemployed or destitute. Drug addicts and alcoholics often cannot find state-sponsored programs to aid them in their recovery and so continue to live in their destructive lifestyle. It is every person for themselves in a less than pleasant reality.

This is where the church steps in and helps those who are the “poor” in their society. Drug addicts and alcoholics find local churches running rehabilitation centers; churches run food banks and used clothing depots; many have places for people to live right in their church buildings (they were built with this need in mind); and always on any given Sunday you find people from different walks of life and different income levels worshipping and fellowshipping together. They are there offering their neighbor a glass of cold water in Jesus’ Name. They are fulfilling the biblical mandate to care for the poor. And yet, by our standards, they are poor themselves. So, it is like one beggar sharing with another beggar what limited resources they might have. This is what Jesus would do – should we do any less?

The Book of James states (2:14-17): What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

And, so, back to you and me. Are we reaching out to help the less fortunate? Are we talking to that person down on their luck who asked for loose change? And, the guy who walked through the coffee show looking for someone to buy him a cup of hot coffee and something to eat – did we help him? Did we buy him what he needed without judging why he was in such a situation? And then did we sit and listen to him as he ate the meager meal? Or do we protect ourselves from those who appear so different from ourselves because we are afraid that we will find out that there really is little to no difference between us – except we have some money in our pockets and they don’t? We have so much and, in general, give so little! The believers overseas have much to teach us in this regard.

Jesus would have stopped for the one. He would have fed the one. He would have listened with His heart to their heart. Jesus would have stopped to hug the one. Jesus would have let them know that they were precious to the Father and that He cared. Jesus would have accepted them just as they are. He would feed them and even clothe them if needed. And, we are called to do no less as we are His hands and feet in the world today.

It may be time to reconsider how we live and begin to adopt a lifestyle more in line with the biblical standard and the heart of God than the one we currently embrace and protect. Just maybe!