Tonight, Marsha Waterman of Warrior's Refuge will be joining us to share what Christ can do through you to reach those who are oppressed. Warrior's Refuge brings hope to hurting lives - spirit, soul and body. Volunteering and contributing to her organization is one way you can take that verse above, and apply it with the goal of bringing joy to the Father. Come out and learn how God can use you to BE the miracle in someone's life.
Maybe I sound like a broken record, but here is that verse again:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46).
I can’t read this verse enough. It keeps me grounded on what is important to God. I’ve been doing the work of the ministry for close to 30 years, and I am embarrassed to tell you how few of those years were spent in making the above verses a priority. A program? Maybe. A priority? No. Still, according to the words of Jesus, this story ought to be of utmost importance. Many of us have spent far too much time gathering in church to be perceived as spiritual people when in reality, we were not. See, spiritual maturity is not measured by how well you speak in tongues and prophesy. Your depth is not measured in your theological scholarship. Francis Chan writes in Letters to the Church that, “The theology that matters is not the theology we profess but the theology we practice.” If that is true, then the verse above ought to be of grave concern to all of us. In fact, it should make us tremble.
If you want to find Jesus, look at the suffering masses all over the city. What you have done with them is a reflection of what you have done with Jesus. Let that sink in. I have learned in my own life that for far too long, I have made myself worthy of nothing more than God’s displeasure. It’s not that I have hated Him. I ignored Him. I was indifferent to Him. I was more interested in my own pursuits than I was in the things He views as priority. I did this by ignoring the needs of the oppressed and the poor. I closed by eyes to those who were in bondage and addiction. I sought to build a life that primarily benefitted me – even in ministry! I’m sure you have your own story.
Seeing this, it often becomes overwhelming to think that perhaps you are the key to the freedom of the oppressed in your city. But, that’s not true. Christ is the key. When it comes to reaching the “least of these,” you don’t have to see the whole thing through. One plants. One waters, but God gives the increase. What happens in our pride is that we often want to be the ones who give the increase as though the world needs us, and not God. This approach is actually a faithless approach to reaching people. While well intentioned, it is rooted in pride and arrogance. We and our plans are not the key element to their freedom in Christ. Our simple obedience goes further than our best intentions. We must trust that the body of Christ will function in the things we cannot. We must do our part, and allow God to move beyond our own capability – often, through someone else. Your offering of food, simple prayers, water bottle of clothing donation goes much further than the BEST committee meetings on church growth strategy and outreach. This is why we must go out to those who are oppressed. We are far from reaching our full potential in our outreach. There is so much more to know and learn about reaching.
One final thought: We often wonder why we don’t see miracles in America. Could it be because Jesus cannot be found in our pedicured lawns, latte shops, and polished pews? His presence, power, miracles and perfect grace is waiting for us in the most ugly places in the city. But, will you follow? If so, it might cost you everything. If so, will you still go?