Serving the Poor & Needy
"ALL THEY ASKED WAS THAT WE CONTINUE TO REMEMBER THE POOR" Galatians 2:10
Using Isaiah 58 as our trumpet call, the CPNRN commits itself to focus on bringing Christ's comfort to the 10/40 window: To further explore how we might make the efforts of world evangelisation more holistic and focussed on the poor, especially the women and children of the world.
Caring for the poor and needy is the vital missing knot in the net of networking needed for world evangelisation. We must get focussed according to the word of God on meeting the needs of the poor and needy. What could the missionary Paul, teach us in this regard?
The absolute uniqueness of Paul's calling and commission is found in Galatians 2:10. We see something of Paul's struggle as a pioneer, that underscores the absolute uniqueness of the call of God on his life (vs. 15) "God called me and set me apart..I did not consult any man". A unique calling, a total spiritual independence. Not a spirit of independence. Like Jeremiah 1:15, he speaks about his life's purpose and absolute focus! Is God, in these days, for the purpose of world evangelisation, going to raise up any from amongst the illiterate, the poor and the needy with this unique calling of Paul?
He is going to call the obscure, the hidden, those of no repute, those of no background, those who are foolish and base, as we read about in 1 Corinthians 1:27 - the unlikely - for the poor and needy from amongst the poor and needy.
In chapter 2 we read that Paul visited Jerusalem, 14 years after a previous visit, with the deliberate purpose of submitting the gospel that he had been preaching, to the apostles.
The second vital point is the inevitable reality of doubt and fear and questions that come into the lives of missionaries, especially those working cross-culturally and with the poor and needy. I don't think that he had any doubt as to his message, but he certainly doubted whether or not it was going to be accepted by those in Jerusalem. I think the doubt came as a result of the adversity that he was experiencing in his ministry, being accused and questioned as to his authenticity, one of the biggest tests in any missionary or minister's life. But this is part of God's process. "God does not judge by external appearances. Those men added nothing to my message." (Galatians 2:6b). Here is this man, not in a spirit of independence, but uniquely chosen of God, being independent of the praises of men. Do we today appreciate that there is diversity in anointing, in calling, in gifting, and authority to be able to celebrate that diversity?
Paul showed that he was spiritually mature in discerning, when he said, "God was just as much at work in Peter's ministry as an apostle, as he was in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles." Mutual recognition of each other's ministries in diversity eventually leads to security of one's own ministry and to the building of meaningful partnerships. Oneness - you are working amongst a certain group of people, and I am working amongst another group of people, both totally different from each other. We are both discerning and mature enough to say that we recognise that God is working with both of us, despite the diversity. We are then secure and can thus partner together. Are we mature enough to really celebrate diversity in ministry, in such a way?
"James, Peter and John, those reputed to be the pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship." In the shaking of hands, the leaders in Jerusalem were symbolically recognising, releasing and commissioning Paul and Barnabas, saying, "I am releasing you my brother, you go to the Gentiles (a unique call) just as we are going to go to the Jews." Are we prepared as partners to commission and release folk in their unique and diverse callings and ministries?
ONLY ONE INSTRUCTION FROM JERUSALEM: But thank God for Galatians 2:10! "all they asked was that we continue to remember the poor." We see in Acts 11:29-30 and 1 Cor. 16:1-4. that Paul was true to his calling. Paul took serious the social responsibility of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. James wrote, "true religion is this, to take care of widows and orphans.." (Js 1:27a) - You say you have got faith, I am saying I will show you my faith in action, through deeds and in kindness.
Isaiah 58, generally accepted by all those ministering to the poor and needy as their main Biblical mandate for mercy ministry, says in effect: Practical self-sacrifice in obedience to God in caring for the poor and needy, is the source of true blessing and the fulfillment of all God's promises in ministry .to the ends of the earth. Are we prepared now to once again hear this one and only instruction from Jerusalem: THAT WE CONTINUE TO REMEMBER THE POOR?
THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE: (Galatians 2:10b)
Paul's response is that remembering the poor was, "the very thing I
was eager to do." May God give us the eagerness to know, that it is His
heart, that it is His absolute longing, that we reach out to the poor and
needy. That it will make a difference and greatly assist us in world
evangelisation as Caring for the Poor and Needy and the preaching of this
gospel to the ends of the earth should be our commission and call.
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