Saturday, October 30, 2010

It Is Not Enough To Feed A Man; He Must Encounter Jesus

We need tot remember that we have been called to good deeds for the sake of compassion, not salvation. Certainly there is a good chance that people will want to know the root of our compassion and will be open to our testimony, however that is not a condition of our good deeds. I have met so many Christians who became disillusioned because people threw the offered kindness back in their face. There are others that say if it doesn't end with salvation we should not be involved in it, but this is wrong as well. We all know there is only one way to salvation, and that is through Jesus Christ, not improving the human condition. Yet, we have been commanded to offer kindness and good deeds without conditions.

It is like there are two prongs to what we do and sometimes those two prongs merge together. I have to be careful here because I do not want to simplify the matter either. Let's consider it this way; in Matthew 12 Jesus explained:

When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matthew 12:43-45)

Unless there is a rebirth then the familiar will return and the condition will be worse. We see this with alcoholics who try to reform themselves. They will struggle all their life unless there is an authentic re-creation which only comes through Jesus Christ. This is the same for drug abusers, people of violence, thieves and all the others suffering from terrible vices. We can work with them until the "cows come home" but unless there is an inner reformation the outer actions will turn to the familiar and often times will be in worse condition. William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, once said:

“To get a man soundly saved it is not enough to put on him a pair of new breeches, to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor. You must in some way or other graft upon the man's nature a new nature, which has in it the element of the Divine.”
This is also true for those who suffer from things like depression which is a form of mental illness. Depression is in epidemic proportions in our society and everyone should become familiar with its symptoms and cycles. The only true way to deal with this and many other such illnesses is to completely die to self and allow Jesus Christ to fully, and I mean fully, possess us. If we try to repair ourselves, if we try to beat it on our own, we will find ourselves in a terrible cycle where we fall deeper and deeper with every attempt. Only Jesus can renew our mind and heart. These healings are a benefit of salvation as we learn to receive our purpose and joy from Jesus and we realize that nothing here holds any value for us because Jesus is everything we need. It requires total surrender, total abandonment of all things here, a total thrusting of ourselves into his arms. Peace, contentment, joy comes with trust and obedience.

Our good deeds address the needs of the physical man and they are essential in our service, but don't expect salvation to result from them. We offer them because they are the natural fruit of the compassionate heart of Jesus. Jesus healed a lot of people, gave sight back to the blind, even raised the dead without requiring worship. He did these things because his compassion reacted to the suffering of humanity, and so should we. However, we have also been called to be his witnesses which is a work of Salvation. We have been called to tell others about Jesus, to be used in signs and wonders, to remind humanity that they are all perishing. We cannot do one and neglect the other, we have been called to both.

Sometimes compassion and salvation merge as we perform miracles and people run to Jesus to receive salvation. What a great thrill it is when this happens but do not think that your good deeds is all that is required of you. Do not hide behind the humanities and think that by offering comfort to the body we have discharged our duties. We have to tell others of Jesus in our word and deed, through acts of compassion and acts of power. Let's stop building our institutions and get back to the expansion of the Kingdom through the power, the anointing that we have been given to do this work. Let us seek to do as Jesus commanded and William Booth demonstrated, let us seek the relief of the suffering of man physically and spiritually, not giving up until our life is spent and we are called home. They need an answer and we have it; his name is Jesus.

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