The Mission is Ministry

by E.L. Anglin

I recently read a long diatribe against the poor, from a man I respect. He misinterpreted Mark 14:7, stating that the poor shouldn't be a priority (paraphrase). His point was that there are other more profitable groups the church should reach.

Here is the full text of that verse...

"You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me."

Jesus spoke those words to disciples who grumbled that the content of Mary's alabaster box was "wasted" upon the feet of Jesus. Those disciples believed the perfume could have been better utilized. They imagined how much the proceeds could have helped the poor.

"You will always have the poor among you" is not an excuse to turn a blind eye to poverty.

Jesus was not instructing His disciples to abandon the poor. He was merely stating that while helping the poor was important, there would be other opportunities to do so.

In that moment, as the fragrance filled the room, Jesus prophetically spoke of His death...

"You will not always have me."

Worship, first. Ministry, later.

~So long as they did have Him He ministered to the needy.~

At the very beginning of His ministry, in His first sermon, He used the opening verses of Isaiah 61 as text.

In the temple He stood and read aloud...

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor."

His first public statement declared His mission.

His mission was ministry.

Which is closer to the heart of God: sermons about power, authority, identity and influence or the work performed in soup kitchens, food banks and orphanages?

The miracle of the loaves and fishes was more than just a cute Bible story. Jesus was moved by THE HUNGER of those assembled to hear Him teach.

With each verse He read, Jesus further clarified His purpose.

"He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD's favor has come."

Often Christians quote James 2:17.

"Faith without works is dead."

What sort of works?

Hair length, long dresses, tithes, church attendance, baptism, or speaking in tongues? No!

The preceding verses clearly define what sort of good works prove genuine faith.

From James 2:14-16:

"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"-but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?"

Genuine faith has a heart. Legs, too. Hands that feed and heal.

Love isn't best expressed to hungry and hurting people through rituals, dress codes and church membership. It's best expressed through meat, potatoes, water, power and clothes.

Our mission is not to produce euphoric church services, pretty sermons, or politically conservative Americans.

The mission is ministry.


This writing is the copyright of E.L. Anglin and is reprinted on this site by permission. View all of his available articles here.


Page added March 27, 2015

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