Pain and Possibilities
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Actually, opportunity may wear many disguises and is unmasked only by uncommon perception (a different way of thinking), unobstructed vision (seeing what is not readily apparent), and unlimited compassion (loving beyond expectations).
This is especially true when disaster strikes at home. When devastation and loss are matched by overwhelming obstacles against recovery, fear and uncertainty may blind us to the opportunities buried beneath the rubble. Tragedy always presents a choice – to become part of the landscape of despair or be dispensers of hope, help, and healing.
The right choice for the church is obvious. Here’s why:
Relief: Our compassionate response brings immediate relief to those in need by providing basic necessities – food, water, shelter, clothing, and health care. The intrinsic value of preserving life and caring for people is reason enough to merit our intervention. We are our brother’s keepers.
Relevance: It erases negative stereotypes of the church common in society. Unfortunately, many view the church as an exclusive club of religious bigots, secluded behind stained glass and aloof to the world it condemns. The church is often dismissed, not because its theology is wrong, but because its existence is irrelevant. Caring intervention presents the positive message – “we care,” and provides the positive action – “we are here.”
Credibility: It presents an unmistakable and undeniable witness of Christ to the world. More than a proclamation, it is a demonstration of the love of Jesus and the hope of the gospel. Saint Francis said, “Witness everyday. If necessary, use words.”
Connecting: It builds bridges and helps the church to connect to people that might otherwise be inaccessible, providing a basis for continuing ministry beyond the crisis.
Openness: It seizes the moment by understanding that during crises we encounter people when they are most open and receptive to the gospel.
Care: James used the Greek word threskeia to define “pure religion” (James 1:27). It refers to acts of benevolence and deeds of kindness done for others out of reverence for God. It is giving ourselves away for Christ’s sake, expecting nothing in return,
Christ-Centered: It is ministering unto Christ. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt. 25:40).
Involvement: It provides an outlet for ministry that includes almost everyone. With simple instructions and appropriate supervision, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors alike can participate in the ministry of care. Hebrew and Greek are not required.
Community: It builds the Christian community, fostering unity within the church. By caring for others together, believers are able to connect with each other and develop stronger relational ties.
Worship: Caring for others is worship unto God. Hebrews 13:15-16 specifies two forms of worship [“sacrifice”]: 1) worship’s verbal expression – “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name;” 2) worship’s vocational expression – “and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
The reason diamonds are usually displayed on a pillow of black satin is because the brilliance and luster of the jewels are more apparent when viewed against the dark backdrop. In a similar manner, the beauty of Christ is all the more conspicuous when presented in contradistinction to the darkness of the world around us. Through the ministry of care, a compassionate and loving church adorns the doctrine of salvation (Tit. 1:10) and glorifies the Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16).