Live in God’s world … Befriending the Poor
When the eternal King created the world, he created human beings to be his children and his representative rulers within the creation. That means that we were created as royalty.
With the fall, poverty entered the world. It entered the world through sin: both personal laziness and oppression are sins that contribute to poverty. It also entered the world at a more fundamental level: due to the fall, God said that man’s relationship to the world had changed, and his work would now be more difficult than it would otherwise had been. The very ground would resist his efforts to bring forth food from it.
Christ has come to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found. While the full force of that blessing awaits Christ’s return, we are nonetheless to understand that the concern of the kingdom is not merely invisible and “spiritual.” The kingdom meets us and addresses us with good news wherever the curse has affected our lives — which is to say, everywhere.
At Christ Covenant, we are committed to the whole-life calling of the kingdom to bring healing into broken lives.
Principles of Mercy Ministry
The fundamental principle of mercy ministry is, “Do good to all, especially to the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). We need to parse this.
- The household of faith gets priority.
- Just as you feed your own family before feeding the neighbourhood, so the household of faith gets priority for the resources of the Church.
- Doing good is nonetheless for all.
- While a local church cannot feed the world, or even its local community, its mission is in principle aimed at all, not simply its own members.
- Doing good is not simply giving money.
- Paul says to do good to all, not to give money or material resources to all. Doing good certainly may entail providing material resources (the context in Galatians has to do with material provision for teachers of the Word), but such provision is not always the appropriate way for God’s people to “do good.” Whether doing good involves such material provision will be determined by a variety of factors, including things such as available resources and discernment of the real issues at play in the life or lives of those seeking assistance.
- Mercy ministry is the task of the Church both corporately and individually.
- Paul’s instructions in Galatians, as well as similar commandments throughout the Scriptures, are given to the listening Church — a Church that disperses into the world throughout the week. Mercy ministry ought to be carried out by each of us, starting from assisting needy extended family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ, and on into extending mercy to others. The Church as Church takes the lead in providing an example of benevolence, but every member is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27) and therefore represents him and his mercy to the world.