Christian musician Matthew West has a new song in which he rather angrily asks God why he doesn’t fix the problems of this world. West sees the hungry, the hurting, and the lonely and pointedly asks God “Why don’t You do something?” God answers Him saying, “I did. I created you.” When I first heard that song it was like a slap in the face, the good kind that gets your attention.
Maybe it’s time we stopped blaming God for all that’s wrong in the world and realize that He has given His church the responsibility, power, and resources to fix those problems.
Helping those in need is commanded by Jesus in his parable of the Sheep and Goats from Matthew 25. God’s people are to have true compassion for those in our community truly in need.
Who are these people, according to Jesus? They are the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked. These are people who struggle to have their basic needs met. Jesus also mentions, however, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner.
I used to think the church had a responsibility to help the poor, which it does. I have come to realize, though, that there are many needs around us we are responsible to meet. There are emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental struggles that the church can overcome. Helping the poor is important but there are many other opportunities to show God’s love as well.
The church is to have true compassion for the hurting. In the parable, the difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep served the needy simply because they loved those around them. The goats, on the other hand, serve the needy only if they know it is Jesus they are serving. Their compassion is limited to those who are like them or those from whom they have something to gain. Jesus tells His church to love all people regardless of age, station in life, social acceptability, or even quality of hygiene.
There is a limitation to compassion in the scripture. In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul tells the church not to help those who are capable of helping themselves but won’t. He says “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” There are those in our country all too willing to live off the hard work of others even though they are capable of helping themselves. This laziness is condemned by God because it drains resources from those who are truly defenseless.
That being said, the church that truly desires to shine God’s love into its’ community has an active helping ministry. God’s people should love God’s creation and should work hard to show His love to those in the community with legitimate needs.
Robert Morton is pastor of First Christian Church in Middlesboro.