I struggled for many years as a pastor trying to determine what the
biblical response should be to hungry and needy people. For a long
time, we did very little to help those who were not a part of our
congregation. The rationale was, "If the government, with its
billions of dollars, cannot change the economic status of these people,
how can we with our few dollars hope to do better?"
Then I had an experience that changed my outlook.
A lady visited our church and was saved. Her husband wanted no part
of her newfound faith and, in many ways, made it very difficult for
her. In the course of time, he was stricken with cancer and laid off
his job. Unknown to us, this family fell into difficult straits
even to the point of having no food to eat.
One morning his wife suggested they pray and ask God for help. Her
husband said, "When I see your God put groceries on our table,
then I will believe." Five minutes later, a man from our church,
feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit, knocked at their door, walked
into their house and set a large box of groceries on the kitchen table.
A few days later, I was called to this dying mans bedside and
led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Arrival of a few dollars
worth of groceries at a crucial time touched his life in a way that
nothing else had.
Helping needy people is a scriptural principle that should be taken
care of by the church rather than the government. The major difference
in the effectiveness of the governments billions and the limited
resources of a local church is Jesus. He said that, if we would give
a cup of cold water in His name, we would not lose our reward. If
we leave out the Jesus factor, then we become second-class imitators
of governmental agencies.
Those who share Jesus on a humanitarian level will be severely criticized
from certain segments of the community who are adamantly opposed to
mixing religion and helping the needy. Unfortunately, they dont
understand that Jesus and religion are two separate directions in
life and that Jesus is an inseparable part of who we are as a church.
We cannot and we must not compromise on this core value. It may not
be politically correct to say it, but Jesus is still the only way
to the Father. If giving away some food and clothing provides a door
for someone to find Him, so be it.