Tending to Eden: Chapter One, Discovering God’s Heart for the World

We are continuing to read through Tending to Eden by Scott C. Sabin. In chapter one, he begins to build the scriptural case for how best to do missions.

(Isa 58:6-7)  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

(Isa 58:10)  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

He concludes,

I wonder what would happen if we in the American church became known for spending ourselves on behalf of the hungry.

Now, some readers will immediately react to this teaching, wondering  about the simple proclamation the gospel? Isn’t it more important to save souls than to lift people out of mere physical poverty? Sabin responds,

To really love our neighbors, we must address both their spiritual and physical needs. We need to invest ourselves in their lives, just as Christ invested himself in the lives of his disciples.

In short, it’s a mistake to insist that it’s an either-or question. It’s both-and. Indeed, we’ll be far more effective evangelists if people see we love them enough to help them in other ways, too. Jesus himself did much more than preach the gospel.

(Mat 4:23-24)  Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.

To follow Jesus, we should have the same balance.

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6 Responses

  1. Jay

    Amen…just said the same in your first post.

    A good model could the method of native missionaries the way they do it by the Church of India. The Gospel for Asia would be a good model. Can’t think of the mans name that oversees it, but it works. I know that there are several groups in Haiti but they need our help and resources.

    Bob

    Bob

  2. Jay

    Gospel for Asia. Founder K.P. Yohannan. They have a great web page. They use natives and they are very effective.

    Cheers

    Bob

  3. Bob,

    Here’s the link: http://www.gfa.org/

  4. Jay

    Thanks. We give to this great work.

    You may be right about trees planted, but its the gospel first . A better government would help. I have dealt with these governments.

    Bob

    Bob

  5. i wonder if we’re wrong to think of “spiritual” and “physical” needs as separate categories. Perhaps we’ve fabricated that division, and that division has lead to us neglecting the “physical” as though it’s not part of the same mission.

    –Guy

  6. Guy,

    We’ve certainly separated the physical from the spiritual in our minds. You can discuss helping physical needs without someone interjecting, “But what about their souls?” It’s a conditioned reflex that we just have to assume than discussion of physical needs somehow means NOT helping spiritual needs.

    But if we really understood, we’d see that they can’t be separated.

    (Luke 5:23-26) Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

    Even Jesus couldn’t persuade the onlookers that the man’s sins were forgiven until they’d seen him heal.

    More importantly, love draws people to Jesus, and no one believes you love a hungry man if you won’t feed him.

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