September 24th, 2020
In the middle of Paul giving his life story, defending who he is, where his message came from, and the truth of the message he proclaims, “Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” It stands out. It isn’t a rundown of what he has done to help the poor, that might flow a little easier. Instead he is just telling us that those who preach the gospel are eager to help the poor.
Preaching the gospel and helping the poor is not an either/or decision.
Preaching the gospel and helping the poor go hand in hand. These two things are not opposed to one another. We share the gospel and we share the necessities of life with those around us. We don’t need to pick and choose which one we do or which one we champion.
I’ve seen this and perhaps you have seen it also. A battle between which is a nobler cause: feeding the poor or preaching the gospel. The answer is both. Both are the noble cause.
As Christians, we are called to preach the gospel:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
As Christians, we are called to help the poor:
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'” Mathew 24:44-45.
Sharing the gospel and serving the physical, emotional, or any other needs our neighbor has complement each other. When we know how much Christ has done for us it creates a desire in us to serve those around us. We don’t serve to prove how strong our Christian faith is. We don’t serve to earn God’s favor. We serve out of Christ’s love.
When we see the work of establishing and sustaining our relationship with God is completed, it gives us the freedom to serve those around us. We don’t create the love or good things we do for others. The unconditional love does not flow out from our fleshy hearts. The unconditional love flows from the love Christ has given us.
The work for our salvation is completed. We are free to serve.
God’s love and grace are unconditional. Our rational minds have trouble figuring this out. Grace is not rational. Grace does not say, “well I understand how you ended up here so I will help you.” Grace does not say, “you were handed a bad hand so I will help you.” Grace says, “you are in need, I am here to serve.”
Grace does not mean you are to endure abuse. Grace does not say “It’s okay” to something that is not okay. Forgiveness is not saying a wrong is right or it’s okay.
Forgiveness is seeing and acknowledging wrong was done. Extending forgiveness and grace does not always mean all is well and things will continue as it had before.
When we want people to act as we wish in order for love to be extended that is not the love and grace that flows from Christ. That is how the world operates, on conditions. As Christians we operate thorough love.
Serving others out of what Christ has done for us means it’s not about us or how much we give or can give. It’s about all Christ has done and will do.
We can be eager to serve those around us not because they fit into a certain mold, not because we know it will all work out, and not because we or the person we are serving is so great. We can be eager to serve just as Paul was because we have been given the same message to proclaim. The work is completed. We are free. Nothing must be proven.