Has the church missed the mark? – To serve or be served?
Not many believers know (as it’s not popular) that the main purpose the Laws in the Old Testament were created was for humanitarian purposes. Although God wanted relationship with his people (just as he had with Moses and Abraham, for he saw it was a better way to live), Israel wanted the laws and to be told what to do, just as all the other nations. The laws were essentially created for Israel; created to ensure their safety, security, and to help with the functioning of a society in that time. Some of the biggest aspects to the laws were to ensure that the minorities, the poor, the homeless, the starving, the immigrant, the slaves, the elderly, and the widows were all taken care of, fed, supported, loved and served by Israel.
Here are a couple verses that poignantly show the humanity aspect of the Laws:
Deu 16:14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. (Temple)
Deu 10:18-19 He (God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Lev 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.”
Sadly, despite all the instructions to be a light, to love and show compassion to those who were in need, Israel became obsessed and focused on the moralistic aspects of the laws, thinking that looking and acting righteous was what God preferred. In their self-righteousness, they chose to puff themselves up, instead of being there for those who needed them, and God, the most. They made sure that the people were tied to an impossible number of laws, while they failed to live up to the laws themselves. They ended up stealing from those in need and putting neck-breaking taxes[tithes] on them, all to fund their ministry/empire, and, instead of bringing the “sinners” closer to God, they ended up blocking them from coming to God (hence Jesus, the whip and the temple and the constant parables similar to The Good Samaritan).
Luke 20:46 -47 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public…”
The humanity aspect of living is not just a foundation to the Old Testament, but also very much entrenched throughout the words of Jesus, the apostles, and was the very nature of the early church.
– Luke 14:13 “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”
– Acts 9:36 “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.”
– 1 John 3:17-18 “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.”
These last few months have saddened me the most and truly shown how much the Church has become more like those who Jesus taught against, than being more and more like him.
We all in the last month have heard about the Supreme Court’s decision and the huge backlash that came with it from the Church, many arguments and heated discussions blew up among the believers, and big divides were created as many friends split because of different opinions. Then, on top of all that, we had well-known preachers, prophets, pastors and the general believer preaching hell and damnation upon USA for this decision.
The church seemed to have become obsessed with pointing out the “sins” of others, yelling and screaming of the coming judgement because of peoples’ choices. In considering their choices they didn’t see the opportunity to serve and love thy neighbor or enemies, to show how big God’s unconditional love is, to act as Jesus would act, to accept and love. Instead, they threaten judgment as great as the likes of Sodom and Gomorrah, but what they have failed to see is what Eze 16:49 says, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy…”
We are happy to point out people’s “sin” of homosexuality using Romans 1:26-27 but remain silent on sins of greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip in verse 29.
We have become obsessed with morality issues such as homosexuality, but yet the church remains quiet on the subject of poverty and those who desperately need support, which is a huge aspect to the Bible and faith. The early church never sought a building or a bigger income. The Apostle Paul refused income from the people he taught and pastored; the church sold everything they had and distributed to ALL who were in need, regardless of faith, religion or sin. They served the people. There is even a writing from a Caesar of the time of the early church pretty much stating how crazy he thought the Christians were, for when there was a plague in the city, while all the people including the doctors were running away from the plague, the Christians would run in the opposite direction to the pagan homes to be there ministering to the sick.
Today, the Church is comfortable in their underused buildings, with most of the churches dreaming and having visions of grandeur to become a multimillion dollar megachurch that could support the leaders to go around in a $30 million private jet. Instead of opening the doors for the homeless, we have stories of churches turning away the homeless, one even turning on the sprinklers, hoping that the homeless will leave. Hearing of Missionaries having to find support themselves while the churches sit on millions, and churches refusing to support financially struggling ministries that are making a huge impact within the communities simply because they don’t fit their doctrines.
(Yes there are many churches that do wonderful things for the poor and the needy, I do acknowledge you and I praise you for all that you do and please continue)
While there was a huge backlash from the church choosing to enter the political arena around the Gay Marriage decision, the Church remained silent on political matters surrounding humanitarian and poverty-related concerns, with reports in the media showing;
-“the richest 1% in the world is set to own more than 99% of the world”, “The 80 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people” and on top of that in the USA the rich has avoided over $21 trillion taxable income hidden in offshore accounts and fake companies and by law in the USA they are being taxed less than the average middle class person.
In USA alone:
“U.S. as having the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world.” “643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide”
“45.3 million people lived in Poverty USA … a rate of 14.5%”
“What’s worse, 6.3% of the population—or nearly 19.9 million people—live in deep poverty, with incomes at only 50% of their poverty thresholds. And 33.9% of the population—or 106 million—live close to poverty, with incomes less than two times that of their poverty thresholds.”
While there is a desperate need out there for the church to become like the early church again, I am constantly hearing of churches finding new ways to extract money from their congregation supposedly for the kingdom, but instead of the money going to where it is needed the most, it is syphoned to feed the buildings and feed the Pastor’s wealth, with the top 10 world’s richest preachers having a total wealth of $352 million dollars.
Is this not the sin of greed for spoken about in Romans 1:29? And yet the silence of the church is deafening!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against wealth and there are a lot of generous millionaires out there, but when is the church going to cry out loud for the hungry, for the poor, for the homeless and for the hurting, the immigrants in need. And stand against the rich raping the poor for their own profit, as the Bible preaches against. Let us promote what the Bible preaches about giving, sharing, loving and compassion for all.
In the words of Tony Campolo “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Love and Grace,