Either/Or or Both/And

Many times in life we assume there is a dichotomy. When presented with two options, it has to be one or the other. It’s an either/or situation. Sometimes we do not ask whether the answer might be both/and instead. In church life, we can have that same struggle about the focus of the ministry we do. Is our call to spread the gospel or to serve others? The answer is yes. In the life of Jesus, we see Him do both. Moreover, we see how his love and compassion for people with physical needs often opens the door to their spiritual needs. Timothy Keller writes in his book, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, about how service to others demonstrates the gospel.
“Ultimately, it is impossible to separate word and deed ministry because human beings are integrated wholes — body and soul. It is both natural and necessary that ministers of mercy also minister the Word while they are in the process of meeting human needs, and that communicators of the gospel also show compassion with regard to the material needs of the people they are trying to reach. An integrative ministry means weaving together word and deed ministry as much as possible. When Jesus raised the dead son of the widow of Nain, he spoke words of comfort (Luke 7:13). After he healed the blind man, he returned with a gospel charge (John 9:35 – 38). These go hand in hand. In Acts 2, explosive growth in numbers (v. 41) leads to radical sharing with the needy (vv. 44 – 45). In Acts 4, economic sharing by people inside the church accompanied the preaching of the resurrection outside the church with great power (vv. 32 – 35). The practical actions of Christians on behalf of people in need demonstrated the truth and power of the gospel.”
Jesus cared deeply about each person He encountered. He also knew that many of them would not be forever changed. We do not read about those fed by the loaves and fishes or lepers who were cleansed following Him by the thousands all the way to His last week in Jerusalem. He served them anyway. Their response was not the criteria He used to decide who to serve. His love was. As people who are loved by Him, we serve because of Him.
– Brian
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” – 1 Peter 4:9-10

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