i was reading a rather interesting article here that sparked all kinds of thoughts. but what really grabbed my attention was a survey on the sidebar. the question it asked was:
If Jesus lived today, what do you think would be his top priority?
Abortion, Homosexuality, Poverty, Global warming, or AIDS?
aside from the fundamental flaw in the question (jesus is alive), i was intrigued.
im not sure what i think about this question.
when jesus was physically on earth, he did heal people. it isn't obvious that he favored some illness' over others though.
there were crimes against humanity. the event of his own birth resulted in infanticide. but jesus did not make this the focus of his ministry.
we know that there was perverse sexuality, adultery, fornication, and homosexuality from the gospels, acts, and the writings of paul. he did speak against sexual sin, but did not base his ministry on them.
there was most definitely poverty. yet we see no instances of jesus upgrading the social or economic status of the poor. he definitely confronted those who had plenty and told them to meet the needs of those around him.
(it is interesting to note that he did not place this burden on the shoulders or at the feet of the government...)
but again, correcting the socio-economics of his day and time were not his priority.
global warming... well... jesus' divinity aside, al gore hadn't been born yet to invent the internet or to inform us of the impending doom, so we'll call it a "non-issue".
though thats not to say that jesus was not concerned for the creation and environment around him. the sermon on the mount shows that he alluded to the beauty of creation. yet, it was not the focus of his message.
notice that i am not saying that jesus was not and is not concerned about these things, but that he did not make them the focus of his ministry insofar as they were the bulk of the content of what he taught.
the content of his message was/is the glory of god, the coming of his kingdom, and doing his father's will.
involved in those things were the meeting of the needs of the sick, the poor and the needy. he also confronted sin. so we cannot say that jesus was not concerned with these things.
but his ultimate message was one of the good news, the he came to live and die in obedience to his father who sent him to be the sacrifice for sin.
so what about today. what if jesus' earthly ministry took place in 2007. what would be his"top priority"?
i would say it would be the same as it was 2,000 years ago. to proclaim the glory of god, his kingdom and to be in obedience to god. would he heal the sick? yes. would he feed the hungry? sure. would he confront those with plenty to share and care for those with needs around them. i suspect that he would.
but, as before, he would not establish an earthly kingdom. he would not be republican and he would not be a democrat. he would promote the kingdom of his father, and its values. what are those values, one may ask?
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
if we follow these two commands, we will act and react to the needs of those around us. but we will never elevate the physical and temporal needs of the world around us to be more important than the spiritual and eternal.
lest i be misunderstood, i do not think jesus meant that we deny a starving man food until we have given a full gospel presentation. nor should we put off any research into curing aids until we have given a tract to those dying from it.
but there is no salvation or justification in meeting physical needs. there are people who have, are, and will spend there entire lives giving to the poor, helping the sick, and feeding the hungry who will do so at the neglect of the souls that are dying despite the health of the body.
we can always do a better job to reach out to the needy around us. until christ comes, we will never arrive to the point where we have done "enough" to help our fellow man.
we often forget that compared with the rest of the world, even the lower middle class in our society would be esteemed as rich beyond measure by much of our world. we could all do without more in order to give to those with need.
but we should never ease our consciences or appease our hearts that rightfully grieve at the suffering of others in a way that does not address the soul when given an opportunity.
it is relatively easy to sponsor a compassion international child (which my wife and i, along with our sunday school class do and i encourage you to consider here), or give money to charity. it is not uncommon to go on mission trips to help build or repair homes. these are good things, and we can always do more.
but how difficult do we find it to share the gospel with those we are helping?
maybe a better question is, "how difficult is it to share the gospel with our co-worker who has a nice house, a nice car, nice clothes and a good family?"
who is more needy? is that even a relevant question?
any who are not in christ are needy. whether we give them water when they are thirsty, clothe them when they are naked, help them when they are sick, whether they be rich or poor, if we deprive them of the gospel, we deprive them of life.