When Helping Hurts pt3 “The Mission of Israel and Now the Church”

As I read Corbett’s and Fikkert’s book I am continually humbled.  I feel that I have failed my Savior in one of his primary missions.

Jesus’s mission was to preach the good news of the kingdom in word and deed.  We see numerous examples of him spreading the good news among the hurting, the weak, and the poor.  God intended Israel of the Old Testament to be a foreshadowing of what Jesus would be like.  “Throughout history God’s people have been commanded to follow their King’s footsteps into places of brokenness.”

This was even demonstrated in the Sabbath laws.

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.  Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave.  Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.  Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.”   (Exodus 23: 10-12)

The Jubilee Year was the year for canceling all debts, allowing the release of slaves and returning land to its ‘original’ owners (Leviticus 25: 8-55).  There were other laws that ensured the poor would be cared for each day of the year.  “There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.”   (Deuteronomy 15: 4&5)

Wow!  “There should be no poor among you.”   Old Testament Israel failed.  

The only deduction?   We are God’s people of the New Testament Church.  Now this is our task …. the task of the Church.  Now we are to be a picture of or preview of Jesus:  

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

I must confess that I do not go about my day with the humbling truth that I am a part of his body and that His fulness is in me.  In fact this is our “inheritance” just as the promised land was Israel’s “inheritance.”  The reality of this, not to mention the responsibility of it seem overwhelming.  

When Jesus sent out “the twelve” they were to “preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick” (Luke 9:2), and the “seventy two” to “Heal the sick who are there and tell them the kingdom of God is near you” (Luke10:9). 

The early church in Acts were on track:  “There were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4:34).  The authors remind us that “while Israel failed to care for the poor and was sent into captivity, God’s people have been restored and are now embodying King Jesus and His kingdom, a kingdom in which there is no poverty (Rev. 21:1-4).  Indeed, throughout the New Testament care of the poor is a vital concern of the church (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 6:1-7; Gal.2:1-10; 6:10; James 1:27).  

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Dearest Lord Jesus,  although I have a noble vocation and I hope that by your grace I am in some ways impacting the world you have given me, I can not help feeling that my life falls quite short of the way you lived, or the early apostles, or the way Francis of Assisi lived.  Soften my heart and show me what you want of me as I continue to “Chase Francis” and read this eyeopener “When Helping Hurts.”

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