Joshua Guthrie asked:
Poor Jack, I feel back your probably getting slammed with hundreds of emails!
So here's my question, I got in a pretty heated argument the other day with a friend of mine over the call of the church, and of missionaries!
The conversation - although not earth shaking in many ways - has me seeking the truth, and I thought you could help!
My friend says it is the foremost neccesity for us to reach people's spiritual needs, and to focus mainly on that. I however feel that both physical needs and spiritual needs are both equal, one none the less greater then the next!
I personally feel that Spiritual needs are obviously inportant for reasons relating to Faith in Christ and being saved! However, I do feel that is someone is hungry, if someone is dying from HIV/AIDS I need to meet their physical needs just as equally as their spiritual needs, sometimes leading with meeting a physical need before meeting or even asking to help them spiritually!
Am I unbiblical in my thinking! I struggle, becuase the school I attend believes in a dispensational view of scripture, which I am not even sure what that means! They call me a reformationalist or (pagan at times).
I just wanna do the Lords will! I feel he has put that view in me, not sure where I picked it up from, maybe a book called Transforming Vision which talked about dualism that I read a few years back... But I don't want to be a dualist, I just wanna follow God closely! I don't wanna argue over petty things! This person is a missions major like myself... What verses can I share, or should I learn from to deal with this void in our relationship... They have given me the oppertunity to do my homework and report back to them!... Ok sorry for the screwy email, I know you're busy! Thanks Joshuap.s. sorry the good lord did not bless me with engish skills! Sorry for typos and spelling, grammer and the likes! You can tease me if you like!
Thanks, Joshua, for your question - a classic! Key leaders of the church and mission have been debating this issue for years.
Some have said that we need to obey the two "greats":
- The Great Commission ("Go into all the world and preach the Gospel...")
- The Great Commandments ("Love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves").
Jesus' life is an illustration of both. His heart went out to people, as He saw them as "sheep without a shepherd." At the same time, He met physical needs: He fed the 5,000; He healed the sick; He cast out demons. Why? Because He had compassion on them and had the capacity to do something about their needs - all of them.
In a nutshell, I would say that our basic responsibility as Christians is to love people as God loves them. He is concerned with all their needs. All things being equal, the greatest need people have is to come into a personal relationship with their Creator, a blessing not only for time (this life) but also for eternity. However, if one lives among people who are lacking basic physical necessities and we don't try to help them secure the solution (when we can), how can we say that we love them as ourselves? In some contexts, such as many Muslim countries, we can do little more than show the love of God. But to limit ourselves to physical aid, regardless how desperate it is, and not share "the water of life," when it is appropriate, we are also being negligent.
I would recommend that you look up the Lausanne Covenant and read what it says on this matter. No other document has received such universal support from Evangelicals.
It is very important that you get this matter sorted out in your own mind before you go to the mission field. However, it is one thing to think about it theoretically and quite another when you are face to face with people dying from lack of nutrition, HIV/AIDS, medical attention in general, etc. (An even more complex situation when you see them suffering under unjust political oppression! But we won't get into that one.)
Let me know how you make out!