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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Temporal Needs are Spiritual needs

It is sometimes frustrating, often times saddening, to hear a pastor ask what the spiritual value is of doing something that would meet the temporal needs of an individual. It is as if some types of "caring" are more spiritual than other forms of "caring." Even worse, some forms of "caring" aren't seen as spiritual at all. Maybe it would be good to take a good look at some of Jesus' last words as he hung on the cross and have our minds turned inside out as to what is "spiritual."
Those of us who believe Christ's claims about himself, understand that everything he did was based on obedience to the Father's will. Thus, everything he did or said had deep spiritual realities that we are supposed to replicate in our lives. To be a follower of Christ is to learn to live like Christ, take action like Christ, and to do it all with Christ's motivation.
So if we go to the cross, the story around the cross, we will find that there is no such thing as an unspiritual act of caring. The gospel recorded by John sets the irrefutable testimony that the meeting of temporal needs means we are also meeting spiritual needs.
As Jesus hangs on the cross, beaten, tortured, mocked, ridiculed, naked, and suffering the indignation of watching people gamble over his clothes he looks past his physical, emotional, and spiritual pain to provide a solution to his mother's temporal needs.
Mary's situation was dire. She is believed to be widowed, her oldest child hangs on a cross before her, and she is about to become destitute with virtually no means by which to care for herself. The cultural issues of her day ecplised any opportunities for her to provide for herself financially.
So Jesus looks at one of his disciples and tells the disciple to take care of Mary. Despite his own horrible circumstances, he sees outside of himself and reaches out to address the temporal need of Mary. He not only insured she had family, but that she would be provided for in a financial sense.
This is profound. Shortly after this incident Jesus would say, "It is finished." He confirms the faith of one of the robbers and then provides for the temporal need of a woman. Since everything Jesus did was spiritual, God oriented, then how can it be any less for those who claim to follow Jesus?
Any care that a believer offers in love of God and our neighbor creates a spiritual stirring in the arena which is unseen by our mortal eyes. This action by Christ teaches us to look beyond our own struggles and afflictions (unlike Jesus most of our issues have a self-infliction factor) and take care of the needs of our neighbor. Any act of love has a spiritual impact. It is time for the American church to realize this, en mass. Do the good we are supposed to do, allow the Spirit of God to work through that good. These should be the daily actions of the people who claim to follow Christ. Make it happen.

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