Ever asked yourself what is the role of the Church today? It’s something I wrestle with all the time as I try my best with a humble spirit to carry out God’s will. As I deepen my faith, listen to God and serve the community I believe the Church (all believers) should be a ‘Connecting Church.’ Once we have a connection with God, this should automatically connect us with our community and as a result connect us to those individuals who are suffering hardship, live in darkness and see no hope.
However this is not always the case. It can appear that the church lives in a Christian bubble unable or unwilling to connect with it’s community. There can be a sense of not knowing our neighbour or having real engagement with the poor. Whatever community we live in, we do not have to travel far to see the pain of poverty. In the Old Testament, the book of Deuteronomy makes this point very evident. Every seventh year (Sabbath Year) the community would assist the poor by cancelling their debts. There was a need to help the poor in a practical way.
Deuteronomy 15:10-11 (The Year of the Sabbath and the cancellation of debts). “Give generously to them and so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open hearted toward those of your people who are poor and needy in your land.”
Jesus also makes the same point in Mark 14:7 “The poor you will always have with you.”
What do we make of these scriptures and what is God saying to us? I believe these are some of the points to understand.
- The responsibility of the church is to identify the poor living in their community
- If you don’t know the poor, it’s hard to serve them
- The grudging heart is broken by a broken heart
- God breaks your heart first before you are able to give of yourself generously
- The blessings we receive is a deeper relationship with Jesus
- We must have real engagement with the poor, which means connection through relationships
- Generosity out of duty is never an option with God. Only from the heart does real relationship mean anything
The Church is called to enter into the hurting lives of people around us. This takes courage, sacrifice and a broken heart. The gospel was never meant to be an easy option. Jesus is calling his people, the Church, to stand up and to take up the challenge with passion and to have real engagement with our community.
Prayer: Father thankyou that you loved us so much that you sent your only son, Jesus and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Our mandate must be to save lost souls. Help your church to rise up in unity and to engage with our communities with purpose, relevance and to share the life transforming power of the gospel. Break our hearts Lord, help us to sacrifice and equip us for this amazing privilege of serving you. Amen