Over the coming months, Foundation Church has many great opportunities to meet the needs of our community in some really tangible ways. For example, during August, until Labor Day weekend, we are doing a backpack drive that will provide school supplies for children in need in our community. As a church, we are also continuing our relationship with Toys for Tots, which will see a few thousand families coming through our doors to be blessed with toys, clothing, books, and bibles over this coming Christmas season.
Engaging in these types of projects and relationships as a church for some of you is very normal. But for others, myself included, can raise very a real question of why do we, the Church, do these things? I hope to answer some of that question below.
If you grew up in the Western world, you are a child of Modernism; a movement that lasted around 150 years that, in essence, claimed that a scientific and rational knowledge of the world around us would provide human enlightenment and flourishing. In the late 1980’s and early ‘90s, after the bloodiest and most destructive century of human existence ever recorded, we began to see we were more than simply rational beings; that an application of the scientific method to our entire lives was not the answer and there was something more.
But rather than balancing a system with both a keen enjoyment of rational thought and an appreciation for the non-physical (e.g. art, music, culture, expression), we moved towards individualism and an abandonment of ultimate truth, opting for individual belief and rationalized truth. This is expressed in cultural feelings and sayings like, “Well it can be true for you, but not for me” and “You can believe whatever you want; I can’t force my truth on you.”
This system of thought, known as “Post-Modernism,” usually enters the church in one of two ways. Either an overreaction to relative truth, which plays out in the general feeling of, “Only the spiritual matters, and not the physical, so why would we do anything that focuses on something other than the spiritual?” Or conversely, “Let’s just meet people where they are and ‘love’ them, but never say anything that might disagree with their pre-conceived beliefs of who Jesus is.”
Personally, I reject both of these extremes and settle somewhere in the middle (which, as an insight into my thoughts, is where I usually land on most issues). In the Scriptures, and especially in the gospel accounts, Jesus is incredibly concerned for the spiritual state of people’s hearts (Mark 1:14, 1:24-26 & 2:1-12), but he also goes on to demonstrate the realities of his Kingdom by doing physical acts to serve, love, and meet people’s physical needs (Mark 1:40-42, 2:1-12 & 6:30-44).
If we are messengers of the good news of the Kingdom of God, then surely we should emulate the one who brought this good news perfectly. And if Jesus brought the good news of the Kingdom of God through word and deed, through providing not only for people’s spiritual needs but also their physical ones, we who are called by his name must do the same. The spirit of God that also indwelt Jesus through his earthly ministry indwells us. Shouldn’t we also be moved to compassion for people’s spiritual AND physical brokenness?
Historically, the church believed in serving people both spiritually and physically. That is why many hospitals, orphanages, and compassion agencies are Christian, or were started as Christian organizations. It is also why a majority of those who work in relief or social justice organizations are Christian; through Christ’s example we are moved to generous compassion and giving.
Foundation Church, I hope we all continue to grow in this reality and continue to become a people who model this beautiful service in both word and deed, fighting to ride the tightrope between the spiritual and the physical. Our God, Jesus Christ, is both spiritual and physical -- he cares for both, he came to redeem both, and will establish a fully redeemed spiritual and physical people in a physical and spiritual Kingdom.
When God opens the door to show his love and shares his gospel in either a physical or spiritual way, in either word or deed, I encourage you to do so and wonder at his mighty work as your physical act opens doors to share the good news, or your spiritual act of sharing the gospel opens doors to physically show Christ.
Nothing that happens in your life is inconsequential to God. He is the one, unlike the popular expression, who is “in the details.” Though he works however he wills, he desires to work through his people. I pray he finds us willing.