“He [Josiah] gave justice and help to the poor and needy . . . Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord. — JEREMIAH 22:16 (NLT)
For those who have a desire to know God more, this one verse holds huge significance.
This concept of worship through compassion is still fairly new in our current evangelical and missions climate. In an effort to move away from liberation theology and the social gospel, and to focus less on the immediate and temporal, the evangelical movement swung the pendulum to the opposite extreme.
Our evangelistic zeal has relegated compassion and social conscience to an optional afterthought of outreach and mission. A theology and practice of evangelism without compassion and social justice ignores a valid function of ministry, and even more so, it diminishes an essential component of healthy personal and corporate spirituality.
Without for a moment disparaging the value of proclaiming God’s Good News in the person of Jesus and his work on the cross, the idea that social justice or practical provision for the poor is an optional side activity for those who are “called” to that type of thing has us squarely caught in social sin.
The words of the ancient prophets to the nation of Israel are just as pertinent to the body of Christ world today. By not actively and purposefully providing for the world’s poor out of our extreme abundance, we have, according to Jeremiah, also forgotten what it truly means to know God.
For those who are hungry for spiritual life, for those who are desperate for the life of God to fill our Church again, we must take bold leadership, moving the Church into the world and eradicating extreme poverty—all in the name of Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: JEREMIAH 22:16
1. Why is knowing God so closely tied to giving justice and helping the poor and needy?
2. How will you seek to truly know God this very week?
Rev. Dave Blundell is founder and executive director of Hungry for Life International. Visit www.hungryforlife.org to discover how Hungry for Life facilitates opportunities for people to know the power and presence of Jesus Christ through worship and worldwide compassion.