I love to read the accounts of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Seeing His compassion and love for people is a motivating factor in my own faith. He touched the lives of people from all walks of life. It did not matter what type of a person He encountered, He loved them and accepted them just as they were. He embraced the poor and downtrodden. He held and healed the sick. He comforted the hurting. He approached the needy. He came to where the people were, and without judgment, showed them the love of God. The Religious community of Jewish rulers had held the people in bondage by rules and regulations which gave them little hope of spiritual fulfillment. They used works as the only way to God. Jesus came not with a litany of rules and regulations, but with a message of hope. The only work that Jesus asked the people to do was the act of repentance. By a willingness to acknowledge their sins, the doorway to God lay open. Slowly, Jesus would reveal that through His actions all their sins would be forgiven. The false “truth” that the religious hierarchy presented would be overruled by the real Truth. Jesus had proclaimed before His Disciples that He was in fact, “the Way, the Truth and the life.” (John 14:6) He further stated that “the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) As Jesus stood before Pilate, he proclaimed that He came to bear witness to the Truth. (John 18:37)
Believers are not called to just boost their spiritual status, but to present the Truth to those who are burdened with the cares of the world. Spiritual growth is directly related to assisting others in their quest for truth. To reach out to help someone reach up to the outstretched arms of Jesus is one of the greatest actions that a Believer can take. I know it is edifying to gather in our churches and lift “holy hands” in adoration to our Lord, but it is also edifying to reach out and touch someone in the name of the Lord. Jesus talked about those in the world that were hungry, naked, sick, and in prison, and the responsibility His disciples had to minister to them. (Matthew 25:35-46)
In many cities in our country, the homeless lay sprawled out on cardboard or whatever foundation they can find, wondering where their next meal is coming from. There are organizations and churches that are doing a wonderful outreach to the needy, but the real answer lies with all the churches in those communities. Many churches spend thousands of dollars in cosmetic upgrades. Instead of reaching out, they are reaching in to make “their” houses of worship a status symbol of God’s grace. When Peter and John went to the Temple to pray, they were met by a lame beggar asking for alms. Peter told the poor man that he had no money, but what he had he would give him. In the name of Jesus, he told him to rise up and walk. (Acts 3:1-6) Sadly, our churches cannot make the claim of Peter, for they have “silver and gold” which is used to keep their facilities flourishing. As the needy continue to abound, the churches continue to abound in self-sufficiency. If more churches would open their coffers, the homeless situation in America would cease to exist.
Jesus’ ministry was to touch people’s lives. The Church is called to do no less. At the end of each day, let every Believer ask himself, “What have I done today to be more like Jesus?” The greater the outreach, the closer we come to our Lord. “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)