Meeting the Real Need

by Lee Buford on June 1, 2011

People with needs are all around us. Real needs. Our communities are filled with folks who are sick, unemployed, addicted, and/or in some kind of trouble or despair. More importantly, our communities are filled with people who are lost.

As Christians we should feel a burden to step in and help, in any number of ways. In many cases we do. After all, that’s what we’re called to do. But in many cases our sense of “meeting a need” is simply missing the point.

The biggest need for most people in our society right now is the need for Jesus. They need hope. They need truth. They need the gospel. And in many cases we’re simply showing up with a sandwich, a dollar, or a pair of shoes. We’re showing up with “stuff”, and we’re missing the point.

The point is this: the “stuff” is at best an accessory to the gospel, a derivative of the gospel in our own hearts and souls. It’s the fruit of the gospel at work in us. It’s NOT the gospel. It’s an avenue to the gospel, an open door, an invitation to share the gospel. But it’s not the life-giving Word that many so desperately need. If we’re meeting physical needs without sharing the gospel we’re merely being charitable citizens. And while charity is nice, it’s not making disciples.

If we truly want to meet the needs of those who are suffering we must do so with the only thing we can offer that will truly make a difference, the gospel itself. We should offer help with the “stuff” too, no question. Share your resources. Provide food and water, clothing and shelter. Meet the physical needs of those in need. But if we’re only doing that we’re missing the point. And if we’re missing the point, are we really meeting the needs to start with?

As Peter told the lame beggar in Acts, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

Whatever you may or may not have, as long as you’ve got the gospel, you’ve got something to give. You’ve got THE greatest thing you can give. You’ve got Jesus! Give it abundantly. And think about it the next time you have the opportunity to meet a need.

Meet the need, but don’t miss the point. Share the gospel.

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