Are you familiar with Matthew 25:31-46 ? This is Jesus telling about the future judgement of the nations. You might recognize the phrase “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in. I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.” But do you remember the part that says that those who didn’t care for the poor “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
If Jesus asked us to do these things in order to have eternal life, why isn’t that what churches are all about? If the churches you’ve been to are like the ones I went to most of my life, they weren’t focused on those things. What they were doing was good stuff. They were supporting the preacher, the worship team, and the children’s programs. They were busy starting women’s groups. They were raising money for a bigger building, or for a church plant. They might have occasionally had a clothing drive for a shelter, or a canned food drive for the local food pantry. (Or collected shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.) They might have had a particular missionary they supported, or even sent people on a missionary trip once a year. But it wasn’t their main focus.
They would say they were feeding hungry souls and healing people spiritually. And those are all good things. But is that what Jesus meant? Is that enough?
How can we know if Jesus would be satisfied with us doing those things on a spiritual level, or if he intends for us to physically feed, clothe, and visit people? Well, what did Jesus do? I think we can agree that Jesus did those things on a spiritual level, but he also did them physically. Over and over again, we see Jesus healing the sick – not just a random, specially chosen few, but crowds of them. We see Him with the woman at the well – ok there she gives Him actual water and He gives her “the living water”. Then there are those stories where the crowds who came to see Him got hungry and instead of allowing them to be sent away, He has the disciples distribute a few fish and loaves to thousands of people – and that happens more than once. Thousands of people. It’s clear that Jesus character is to feed people both spiritually and physically, and since we as followers of Christ should be striving to be like Him, we should be too.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”