22 December 2009

Word and Deed

In reading the Gospels, I am regularly struck by the power of Jesus words. As I posted recently, words are powerful and Jesus' are particularly so. But as I read John 6 this morning, I was struck by Jesus' actions. I think a key to understanding this is found in verse 26. "Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves." It appears many were first drawn to Christ because of what He did for them. This allowed the opportunity to share His words. He fed them, body and spirit.

The early church understood this message. In Acts 6, the apostles (elders?) called together all the disciples and they appointed 7 brothers (deacons?) to minister to the physical needs of the widows-both Hebrew and Greek. They recognized this as an essential part of the growth of the early church.

We too, are called to minister to others by serving them. Consider Isaiah 58:6-10:
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

The whole book of James also calls us to minister to others. James 2:14-16 reads "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?"

We are to "pour ourselves out" for others. It is true that it is by grace alone that we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). With that said, although our works do not save us, they may open a door for us to introduce others to Christ and so lead them to a saving faith. So let us serve others as we share with them about the love of Jesus.

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