For decades the church has focused its attention on the cross, as it should. The cross is a focal point for people of faith. The cross represents so much. The words of an old hymn remind us well that the cross is an emblem of suffering and shame. It was never glamorous. It was never intended to be a piece of jewelry. The cross with a fully in tact Jesus, full of life without death would render hopelessness to an entire world. The blood of Jesus put life and hope into the meaning and story of the cross.
There are hard theological truths attached to the cross. Jesus was 100% God at the very same time that He was 100% man. Jesus chose to humble himself while temporarily laying aside his deity to enter the space of mankind in order that He might invest and walk and talk and suffer just like the rest of humanity. The cross is so often misunderstood. Satan thought he was the victor when Jesus was laid down and nailed to that cross. He raised his arms in triumph when the cross was lifted and thrust into the hole dug for a lowly Jesus. But this was no lowly Jesus. This was the strength of the God-Man. He endured the cross and the shame for something better that was in store for all of us according to Hebrews. He understood the Old Testament prophecy; that as a serpent was raised in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. Lifted up he was. He died a physical death so that we could have spiritual life. He breathed his last physical breath so that we could have our first spiritual breath.
The spiritual and physical go together. Our beings are physical and spiritual. I like to think of the cross as one with two sides. There is the physical side of the cross and the spiritual side of the cross.
Jesus has called us to be in the same race that He ran. That race was not marked with human glory. It more resembled humility and shame, beatings and ridicule. Not many are ready to sign up for that side of the cross or that race. Too many Christians view the race as a four person relay. They want others to run the first legs. They want others to do the grueling training required for the crown. They want to wear the official warm up without engaging in the training sessions of suffering and shame. They want the baton to be handed to them just before the finish line so they can be named the victors.
For whatever reason, God in His infinite wisdom chose to place His bride on this earth and He has not yet come to claim her. He longs to come for His bride, but He is not willing that anyone should perish. He wants all to come to a saving knowledge of who He really is and accept Him as personal Savior so they can have a relationship NOW and FOREVER with Him. The reason we are still on this pain filled and corrupt planet is that Jesus has chosen us to be about His Father’s mission. The mission of Jesus IS the Church.
In this world there is much pain and much suffering. The Church has been equipped with everything the world needs. We have been given life. The things we have are not our own. We are stewards with what God has entrusted to us and they are to be used for the mission of Jesus. We need to be filled with physical compassion and care for the needs of real people. The homeless and orphans; the widows; the prisoner, the abused…and the list goes on.
Physical care is far too removed from the mission of Jesus, the Church. The church has focused on only the spiritual side of the cross. The church is often more concerned about making sure that people have a ticket to heaven than they are about the very person who needs the ticket. People really don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Providing physical care gives us access to the spiritual realm but that happens through presence and relationship. We must enter ‘their’ space.
When we enter the spaces of the physically and spiritually poor whether locally or globally we enter into the Divine. This is the place where God resides. It is a special place. It is the place closest to God’s heart.
It is not very comfortable. This place is filled with great need. Battle is waging in this space. The flesh and blood and the ‘god’ of this age (Satan) is fighting for the very soul of its residents. His war is a long war against God. I wonder if the ‘Body of Christ’ – the Church, is waging in the battle on the actual battlefield or if they are too comfortable in their own temples that we have built called ‘churches’ that have wonderful facilities, stages, presentations and family fun.
I wonder if God has called us to battle and we have instead chosen the easy path. The comfortable path.
I hear of Christian universities and institutions of higher learning who are unwilling to send their students to the fields where real battle happens because their insurance companies will not cover the students. What have we come to? This is as much an indictment on parents as it is on the universities. We have chosen a glamorous cross and have chosen to ignore and have no part with the old rugged cross. Has the mission become a question liability? Do we get to choose or has the battlefield been set? We must prepare our students for physical and spiritual battle. Real races and winning teams don’t practice in pristine conditions. Sweat and blood are often the key ingredients to those who win the prize.
Every so often, the US Government feels compelled to put out a report specifically to US citizens traveling to Haiti concerning safety issues in what they call ‘advisory’ updates. I do not wish to diminish the importance of the intent of the message but do want to address this ‘mass’ communication initiative that is unfairly focused and most often misleading and frightening.
CPR-3 believes that Jesus wants us to GO into all the world and bring the good news and the light of the gospel to everyone, including Haitians. Mission in general is not safe, because we are entering onto the battle field. CPR-3 is much more concerned about our truest enemy (SATAN) than about the ‘few’ Haitian people that fall into the category of the ‘minority.’ The latest report shows that two Americans have been killed this past year in Haiti. Have you seen the latest reports in America? This past year in Chicago alone there were 500 homicides. People without Jesus are lawless. The media is capable of highlighting what they desire to highlight and so is the Church.
We are spiritual. We don’t make that a ‘compartment’ of our lives. When we provide physical care we gain the opportunity to share spiritual life. That happens through relationship.
I am becoming more and more a fan of a book not yet written called, HELPING NEVER HURTS with the sub title Caring for Physical and Spiritual Needs. The church is the hope of the world when it points people to the person of Jesus who hung on that cross. He was physical and spiritual. We must care like Jesus cared. He gave up His life. It was the most unselfish act of love ever displayed for mankind. There is a huge tension to be managed for sure. We do not want to create unhealthy dependencies, but neither do we want to ignore that we have been blessed in order that we might bless others. To whom much is given, much is required.
The call to all of those who call themselves Christ followers or Christians is to take up their cross daily, to die unto themselves and to give life to others. If you have nothing worth dying for then you have nothing worth living for.
We have been given physical water and spiritual water. One is physically necessary for the life that God has called us to live now, and the other will satisfy our soul thirst for eternity. We must give both!
Join us in the movement to give physical and spiritual water. Lives are at stake!
CPR-3 cares for physical needs in many different ways. A very easy way for you to engage in caring for someone physically is to join our water campaign! For $2 you can give 1 child clean water for 2 months. We care for spiritual needs through Movement trips and our partner churches who form relationships on the ground in Haiti. Join us on a Movement trip soon!