Both Soup and Salvation
Bible Reading: James 2:14-18
Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all-it is dead and useless. James 2:17
“Service projects!” Ethan scoffed as he looked at brochures for summer missions trips. “I mean, it looks like you talk to people too, but why would I want to waste my time putting up a house for the poor? What good will a house do them when they’re going to hell? If I’m not knocking on doors and passing out tracts from dawn till dusk, it’s not a mission trip.”
Many Christians think the only part of people you should care about is their souls --the part that will live forever. But the Bible demands more.
God wants you to love the people in your world as total persons, not just as souls that need to be saved. Jesus not only talked to people about the bread of life to fill their spiritual hunger (see John 6:35), but he also gave them physical bread for their physical hunger (see John 6:5-11). Every individual is a whole person-soul and body-and those parts are equally valuable to God.
Suppose a local skid row mission invites your youth group to take part in their ministry of “soup and salvation.” They want your group to come downtown to present a church service and then serve a hot meal to the homeless. These are equally loving activities because each is a ministry of love to genuine needs.
Food, clothing, and shelter alone don’t bring people into the kingdom of God. People also need to hear about Christ and trust Him as Savior and Lord. But it’s difficult for people to listen to your Bible lesson if their stomachs are growling with hunger.
You know what? Caring for physical needs flings wide the door for meeting spiritual needs. And, moreover, the world is watching you. They aren’t impressed by your passion to save souls if you neglect painfully obvious physical needs.
Ministries that seek to provide basic physical needs and feed spiritual hunger offer a double helping of the love of Christ. Operation Carelift, a facet of the Josh McDowell Ministry and Campus Crusade for Christ International, is one example. Since 1992 Operation Carelift has collected and delivered food, clothing, medical supplies, and school supplies to the destitute citizens of Russia. With the supplies come Bibles and the gospel message. As one Russian teacher said with tears in her eyes, “That’s real love.”
REFLECT: Are you loving the “whole person” in those around you? What can you do to improve the quality of your love?
PRAY: Ask God to give you eyes to see people as whole creatures --and strength to meet both physical and spiritual needs.
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