In case you missed it you can find Part 1 of Spend, Spend, Spend RIGHT HERE
During the Tsunami Relief Campaign I stood nearly crushed amidst a sea of bodies in the Millennium Stadium all determined to make a difference in this world and relieve the suffering of those in areas affected by the devastation last Boxing Day. As the monolithic screen tickered a rising fund count, I was convicted by the compassion modelled by those strangers and wondered to myself, how much of this zeal was being mirrored by the Church. Jesus had a lot to say about compassion towards people who were down and counted out. He once said to a host at a party, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, or your relatives, nor rich neighbours, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14) I realized when I read that passage that this is one of those “ignored” scriptures that Christians read over very quickly and then quickly forget.
Have church planters been throwing banquets so that they can be repaid with a paycheck? Have they been targeting the “rich neighbors” instead of the poor, the maimed , the lame, the blind? You know we have.
The fact seems obvious. Simple Plan is right. We don’t care. We don’t give a rip about the needs around us. Tony Campolo once stood and addressed a group of prestigious leaders in America, both religious and political. His opening lines were “35,000 children died today. The same will happen tomorrow, and the next day until something is done…and you people don’t even give a *$%#.” He paused and then continued, “What’s even worse is that you’re more concerned about the fact that I just used a swear word than you are about the 9 million children that will be dead by the end of the month.” The Church for many years has been reacting against what was once called “Social Gospel” which believed that Christians would save people by simply helping them socially. It was a flawed train of thought which threw the gospel out the window and failed to account for the evil of mans heart. Although Social gospel is not a danger to most evangelical Churches today, apathy and inactivity is.
Our strong reaction to social gospel has left a hole in the evangelical heart where compassion ought to be. The Tsunami appeal seemed to have compassion, and Simple Plan mourned the absence of it, but the Church should be leading the way. To quote Allistair Begg’s recent address at the FIEC conference, “we have been waiting for the world to give us a conscience”.
Perhaps we have been hiding behind our theology, using our man-made platitudes to justify our inaction. Perhaps we use Jesus’s quote “The poor you will always have among you” (Matt 26:11) as a reason not even to bother, but then forget Paul’s testimony of his commission from the other Apostles. “And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabus the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing that I was eager to do.” (Gal 2:9-10) In reaching the world with the Gospel, Paul was given the Churches highest calling and first priority but as a footnote, he and Barnabus were told to mirror their Master who while preaching the soul-saving message suffered a heart that broke with compassion for those he was reaching out to save. Ever wonder why Jesus fed the 5,000? The bible says it was motivated by compassion. Ever wonder why at the end of a hot, dry, dust-filled day the disciples cried and whined like school girls to send the crowds home, yet Jesus, exhausted, still continued to minister to them well into the night? The bible says his heart was moved with compassion! At that moment, looking out into the crowd which swayed like stalks of wheat on the hillside, Jesus challenged his disciples, “Open your eyes! The Fields are ripe unto harvest. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers out into his fields” That must have smarted! The disciples were standing right there and Jesus was saying that there just weren’t any workers. Jesus tells them that their eyes are shut to the needs of the lost. Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who closes his eyes to the poor will receive curses”. The Lord of the Harvest is looking for compassionate workers whose eyes are opened, and whose hearts are moved when they look out into the harvest field. They see it ripe for harvest if only someone would simply demonstrate his love by beginning with the words, “He loves you” and end by showing it.
The emphasis on these passages is being not doing. Being a compassionate follower of Christ. God doesn’t want workers who labour out of a grudging obedience to a command, but are filled with the Spirit of love. We don’t merely have the letter of the law that tells us to love our neighbors, but we have the Spirit living within us that motivated the command to be written. As you develop from youth into maturity, you are being shaped and moulded either into a more selfish person mirroring your generation, or into the image of Jesus, who loved his neighbors in any and every situation. Once, when Jesus spoke about loving your neighbor, a man tried to squirm out of his own responsibility by asking the question, “But Lord, who is my neighbor?” As if to say, I don’t know who my neighbor is by definition, therefore I don’t know the bounds of my responsibility, therefore I don’t know who I’m supposed to be helping, therefore I am off the hook. In telling the now well-known parable about the good Samaritan, Jesus flip-flopped the dilemma by ignoring the question of who is your neighbor whom you should help, and showing the perfect neighbor whom you should be.
You can plant a church in the areas that need them…if you’re not chasing after your paycheck from the tithes of rich, middle class professionals.
Personally, I have turned down mega churches who want me for my preaching. Not interested. You shouldn’t be either. I split the pay that comes in from the church with other guys in order to build a team. At the outset of any New Breed conference, we always start by saying, “If the possibility of taking a large 6000 person mega church is in any way a lure to you this morning, then you shouldn’t be here.
You’re in the wrong conference.”
I’m taking the kid gloves off here. When it comes to money I get a bit fired up. Ministry is so jacked up right now that people are targeting rich and upper middle class areas to plant churches in. Have you ever watched the snail trail of church planting movements working through the narrow corridor of the yuppie social strata? We don’t need more yuppie churches. We need yuppie churches to plant out into the poor surrounding communities. I realize now that much of what I’ve heard urban planting is merely lip service by middle class white guys to make them feel less white and sound more ghetto.
I’ve been thinking that we need more gospel special forces operatives in the Kingdom of God; at least that’s what I think most guys going into seminary dreamed that they’d be when they got out. They wanted to be dangerous for the kingdom of God; fists like widow makers that deal damage to the enemy until he’s up against the ropes, taking so many blows to the kidneys until he’s pissing blood for weeks.
It all comes down to calling. Are you called to do this? Everybody who did something really hard in the scripture has a story about how they were called to do it. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Gideon, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the hits just keep on coming. God has a way of getting your attention. Before you’ve embarked on the flight path destined to drop you out over enemy occupied territory, you have to know that you’re there because God wanted you there. Most of the 101st airborne signed up because it was an extra 50 bucks a month. You’ve got better reasons. Like Paul, necessity is laid upon you…woe unto me if I don’t preach the gospel. Are you called to do this? Then no excuse will do. No argument can keep you from it. Eventually, you’ll wrestle with them all, but in the end that call will defy logic, haunt you in bed at night, and keep you awake when the rest of the house is sleeping. You’ll want to come out of your chest when you hear bad preaching. Your appetite for the word will grow ravenous, your awareness of your need for prayer will deepen, and your compassion for the lost will hurt. You’ve been called on a dangerous mission. It will take every bit of strength you have, and the Holy Spirit Himself will supply what you lack, but He needs you to know.
Are you ready to do this? Are you called to it? Will you buckle at the first drop of blood, or will you press on until you’ve taken the hill, planted the flag, and rallied the cry of victory?
Today is the day you discover that, before you take one step further.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.