“Evangelism, and even the notion of mission itself, has sometimes been reduced to the words we share with another person, telling him or her about Jesus, salvation, or eternal life. Words are important, but they can also be cheap. If we use words and get words in response, sometimes we think we’ve done mission or evangelism. Ministry among poor and vulnerable people reminds us that words are rarely enough—what each of us needs is to know that we are loved by Jesus, beloved of God. Everything else flows from that. In situations of injustice or despair, words alone are particularly insufficient. People need to be loved and valued by others. They need to see what love looks like.When Jesus is called a friend of tax collectors and sinners, the description is not intended as a compliment (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). But it does acknowledge the shocking welcome he embodied in reaching out to those considered unclean and unworthy. He seems to have enjoyed being with them. Causing considerable offense to the religious authorities, Jesus gladly shared meals with these friends and brought them love, hope, and healing. . . . Learning to see the so-called other as a friend increases our sensitivity to the reductionism, commodification, and manipulation that plague some versions of mission and ministry. Human beings who are not Christians are far more than potential converts. In our concern for reaching out with the gospel, we can unwittingly reduce the person to less than the whole being that God formed. . . . We are better able to resist tendencies to reductionism when we are in relationships that affirm each person’s dignity and identity and when we come into those relationships confident that God is already at work in the other person.” Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl
“If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” James 2:3,4 NLT
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you know that you are “beloved by God?” Is this your starting point for ministry to others?
- Jesus “seemed to enjoy being with them” (the “unclean and unworthy”). Do you think of Jesus that way?
- Are some people so “other” to you that there is no chance of you ever knowing or loving them? How can you become more like Jesus?
Abba, let me love in deeds–and without discrimination.
For More: Friendship At the Margins by Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill
Heuertz, Christopher L. and Pohl, Christine D., Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission. Downers Grove: IVP, 2010.
“For the last month I have been deeply affected by the pictures and stories of tens of thousands of refugees pouring into Europe. Then, this past week Geri and I were in Germany, speaking and interacting with church leaders from Eastern and Western Europe. We saw refugees in the streets, railway stations, and small villages. We had dinner with one of our German pastor friends about his small ‘suburban’ village of 600 that recently received 57 refugees. The town formed a task force of over 50 people to serve their massive needs (from clothing, to language study, to integration into schools, etc.). It was inspiring. This crisis goes beyond Europe to the world as a whole. We can expect greater migrations of peoples seeking stability and opportunity for years to come in the West. So how do we look at the news of what we are seeing…?
- Let’s remember Moses, Daniel, Priscilla, Aquila, Ezekiel, and the Israelites were also refugees. Throughout history God has advanced His purposes by moving peoples around from one nation to another nation.
- God is sending people to us in Europe and North America so that we might love them and preach the gospel to them. Many of us have been praying for the Muslim world for decades. God is answering our prayers by bringing them to our doorsteps. There is a great spiritual hunger among many who have become disillusioned with Islam (Yes, persecuted Christians and others who are fleeing poverty are also coming.).
- If we close our doors to refugees and immigrants out of fear of losing our standard of living and comfort, we may be closing our doors to Jesus Himself. (Matthew 25:35)
- We must lead the way in asking God to give wisdom to President Obama and other Western political leaders. The issues are complex. How does one determine who truly qualifies as a refugee? How do government leaders screen out ISIS and others seeking to spread terror? At what point are poorer countries like Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary and Greece unable to receive more refugees?” Pete Scazzero
“I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
Jesus in Matthew 25:35
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you aware of newcomers and changing demographics in your own neighborhood? Are you aware of the European crisis?
- What might be God’s invitation in all this to you? …your family? …your church?
- What emotions does this issue bring to the surface for you? Can you sit with those before God?
Abba, may we do all we can for those with nowhere to lay their heads.
For More: Jesus Was a Migrant by Deirdre Cornell
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“Those at the edge, ironically, always hold the secret for the conversion of every age and culture. They always hold the projected and denied parts of our soul. Only as the People of God receive the stranger and the leper, those who don’t play our game, do we discover not only the hidden and hated parts of our own souls, but the Lord Jesus himself. In letting go, we make room for the Other. The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited into the temple.” Richard Rohr
“In a world ruled by law, grace stands as a sign or contradiction. We want fairness; the gospel gives us an innocent man nailed to a cross who cries out, ‘Father, forgive them.’ We want respectability; the gospel elevates tax collectors, prodigals, and Samaritans. We want success; the gospel reverses the terms, moving the poor and downtrodden to the head of the line and the wealthy and famous to the rear. …To follow Jesus [means] to respond as he did, against all reason to dispense grace and love to those who deserve it least. …We see ourselves as on the side of Christ by giving to the needy. The new Testament makes plain, however, that Jesus is on the side of the poor, and we serve best by elevating the downtrodden to the place of Jesus. … the direction of charity is not condescending, but rather ascending: in serving the weak and the poor, we are privileged to serve God himself.” Philip Yancey
“There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcasts, the suspects, the maltreated – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. Christians are called to compassion and to action.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith
and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- If a church is “converted” by “outcasts” that it welcomes, to what degree is your church being converted?
- How is your church doing at “dispensing grace and love to those who deserve it least?” Are such people even showing up in your church?
- What do you do that helps you to see “from the perspective of those who suffer?” Is that something you desire? What would be the point?
Abba, may I see you and serve you in serving the maltreated of my day.
For More: Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey
I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill