In ministry we put a lot of emphasis on people's comfort. We pour millions of dollars into housing, clothing and the feeding of people. We do this because Jesus told us to do it. But we seem to put more emphasis on this than we do on the ministry of greater importance. In fact, we even put a greater emphasis on the healing ministry than we do on the more important ministry.
Jesus came to preach the Good News. That is what he desired to do and he spent a lot of time doing it. Mark records one morning in the life of Jesus that most of us seem to overlook. Jesus had spent the evening before healing people. Here he is God, walking around in the filthy result of sin, which is disease and deformity. They exist because of a fallen creation where everything is twisted and warped from the original by man's sin nature. How could Jesus not be moved by compassion and it is from compassion that he responded with healing. But it was not why he came.
Mark says that Jesus got up early that morning and went off to pray in a solitary place. Peter and the others tracked him down because the crowd had begun to form again. They told Jesus that everyone was looking for him. Who could blame them. Here was a man who could deliver them from their misery. But Jesus did not want to be side tracked from his original mission:
“Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” (Mark 1:38)
Jesus makes a clear distinction here between his purpose and his ministry of compassion. So we read:
And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. (v. 39)
Why the casting out of demons? This went hand in hand with preaching the good news. How could anyone receive the good news if he was oppressed or possessed by demons. Jesus wanted people free to make a decision based on what he was telling them. If it was a real danger for Jesus to be side tracked by compassion, how much more so for us?
If we look at the history of the compassionate ministries around the world we will see at the roots of their beginnings a real desire to assist people out of the love of Jesus with a longing to see them discover the truth of Jesus. But over time these "charities" and churches became side tracked by their compassion and what started out as faith and love for God devolved into a humanitarian organization with the real solution for mankind's suffering being lost.
It is true that Jesus healed and served out of compassion but he never lost sight of or became side tracked from his true purpose. Jesus came so that whoever believes in him will be saved. He cast out demons so they would be free to believe. This must always remain the center mission of everything we do, even when we respond to human suffering with the compassion of Jesus Christ. If not, we are not being of any help to anyone. What matters is not the comfort of people in this place as much as their eternal destination. Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.