Ask Your Preacher
I have been invited to go out with a female friend who is involved in a gay relationship with another lady; should I avoid these social interactions, or should I go out with them?
Dear Keeping Company,
Jesus used to eat with those who were living immoral lives, and the Pharisees condemned Him for it, but Jesus simply said, “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:16-17) Jesus spent His life trying to save sinners from hell… and the only way to do that is to spend time with them.
Going to dinner with an unbeliever, whatever their sins, isn’t wrong. If you are living as a good example to them, and standing firm in your own morals, then you can make a difference. The only time you should be worried is when you find they are changing you more than you are changing them (1 Cor 15:33). Otherwise, let your light shine (Matt 5:16).
If His eye is on the sparrow (Matt 6:26), how are we to feel and react to the amount of suffering in the world? I do not mean accidents or things that happen as a result of the free will of people – I'm thinking specifically of starvation, people who live with large families in small shacks, etc. If God feeds even the birds, why does He allow children to starve? How am I, as a Christian, supposed to reconcile this with the idea of a God who loves us and will care for us when we are in need?
God does keep a closer eye on us than He does the sparrows, but you must remember that Matt 10:29 says that even the sparrows that God cares for fall to the ground in death. Death is inevitable ever since Adam and Eve’s sin (Gen 2:17). We will all die, and sin’s destructive power is the source of all suffering.
You see, starving families are an act of mankind’s choices. All experts agree that there is more than enough food to feed the whole world – starvation is due to oppression from others, a lack of compassion for our fellow man, and countless other sinful behaviors. There is no valid reason for anyone to go hungry in this world – it is sin that causes all the harm we see to our fellow man.
God does watch over everyone, and He is intimately aware of every hair on our heads (Lk 12:7), but God must balance His love and desire to intercede for us with His promise to let us make our own choices and suffer the consequences (Gal 6:7). All the great tragedies we see in this world are consequences of mankind turning its back on God. From God’s standpoint, as horrible as it must be for Him to watch children suffer, He also knows that when children die, they go home to be comforted by Him.
Here lately, I’ve been getting really angered by the gestures and things said by certain people. I’m trying to become a man of God and follow Him and give Him my heart, but I feel like my anger is slowing me down. Maybe you could give me some advice and/or Bible verses?
Dear Slow Burn,
Bitterness and anger are such easy things to slip into, and many a christian has been destroyed by their frustration with sin and the world’s ways. It is a dark world, and it can be discouraging and overwhelming at times. The solution is to view the world the way Jesus did – with compassion. When Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem, He wept over their faults and pitied their fate (Lk 19:41, Matt 23:37). Jesus viewed the world as being full of people that needed a Savior (Jhn 4:35) and rejoiced over every lamb He could rescue (Lk 15:4-7). Christians live in hope of eternity with God (2 Tim 4:8), and that hope is our anchor (Heb 6:19). Allow your love of the Lord and your love for your fellow man to strengthen you through this life (Mk 12:29-31). Your future is bright – have compassion on others, and maybe you might be able to brighten their futures as well.
I understand the limited responsibility of the local church in regard to benevolence. My concern is this: our preacher has been presenting lessons about how we should be helping out the poor and that the Bible commands it. The problem is:
- I'm not exactly rich; in fact, I'm barely making ends meet. But now I'm feeling sort of guilty after these sermons.
- If I try to help the needy, how do I do it? I mean, do I go out and try to find a poor person or give to the guy standing on the corner with a "Please Help Me Feed My Kids" sign?
I am a single woman with no retirement plan, no medical insurance, and a job that is "on call" and lucky if I get in a 32-hour work week. I know our idea of poverty in this country doesn't come close to real poverty faced in other nations, but I'm feeling pretty strapped right now. How do I fulfill my Christian responsibility to help the needy like our preacher says we should?
Times Are Tight
Dear Times Are Tight,
In order to fulfill the command to help the poor, we must have both means and opportunity. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. You can’t give millions of dollars to charity if you don’t have millions of dollars to give! So take comfort; God doesn’t expect you to give beyond your capabilities.
In fact, the story of the widow and the mites in Lk 21:1-4 makes it clear that amount isn’t important to God, but effort is. As opportunities arise in your life to help those who are in need (needs can be physical, financial, emotional, etc.) – fulfill them. After all, Jesus said that even a cup of cold water counts when it comes to helping His service (Matt 10:42).
I wonder why our gospel preacher, along with several others, think they need to go overseas to preach the gospel. I feel there is a great need here in the United States for preaching also, but he doesn’t do that; he only holds gospel meetings from time to time. I know it is good to let others hear the gospel all over the world, but why not go out into areas in the U.S.?! It seems like a lot of wasted money, and everyone knows the people in the poor nations are always looking for money. Why do so many preachers think they have to do this?
Stick To The States
Dear Stick To The States,
The key to answering your question is in your own words – you said, “I feel there is a great need here…”. God has told us to bring the gospel to all of the world (Matt 28:19), and it is a matter of wisdom and personal preference as to where, when, and how to do that.
Some feel it is more practical to focus on those of their own country because there is a real need right here. Others feel that since we are the wealthiest nation in the world and have the means to preach in foreign lands, we should focus on that. Both are right. There are needs in both America and abroad. There are preachers needed here and elsewhere.
Yes, some people in poor nations only want money and are deceptively listening to the gospel in hopes of a handout… but the same could be said about people here in America, too! Wherever the gospel has been preached, there have been sincere and insincere hearts. Even one of the apostles, Judas, used religion as a disguise for greed (Jhn 12:6).
The best thing we can do is all work to preach wherever we feel we can make a difference and not judge those who put their zeal towards other evangelism fields – we both serve the same Master (Rom 14:4). The problem isn’t that we aren’t preaching enough in the right parts of the world… the problem is that we aren’t preaching enough.