Caring for the Needy
Published July 21, 2011 @ 8:16 a.m.
This past spring I followed the story surrounding the homeless in Lubbock with some interest. I resided in Amarillo for ten years and in Amarillo there are large missions to the homeless and disadvantaged. I was surprised to find out that no such large scale missions were in Lubbock especially after having driven on the Southwest side of Lubbock where there seems to be a large church every two or three blocks. This seeming failure of the church to care for the disenfranchised brings to mind the question of Law and grace.
We sometimes make a false distinction between Law and Grace. It is quite true that no one in their own power can merit salvation. We are all reliant on God’s grace. What we misunderstand is what God’s grace does. God’s grace doesn’t just free us from the effects of our sin (forgiveness). God’s grace also begins the work of transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. It is this same Jesus Christ that Matthew tells is the “fulfillment of the Law”. If we live in Christ’s image we also become the fulfillment of the law as well.
The question is no longer what we do but rather who we are. If we are God’s people living in “Law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2ff) then caring for the poor and the helpless is no longer something that we do; but rather, it becomes who we are just as God’s redeeming work in Jesus Christ was not something God did, it was an expression of who God is. For the church the question surrounding the poor and the helpless is not “what are we going to do” but rather who are we when confronted with this situation.
In Post many churches support Post Cares which does some of the work of caring for the poor in crisis situations. I know that each church probably does a little more on the side. I certainly think that there is a difference between enabling and giving a hand up and I am not for enabling. However, I do think that for the community of Post and for myself, when we are confronted by a need, the question we must ask is who are we in Christ Jesus? Then we should act out of who we are in the Lord.