The devil attacks people within the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…especially in third-world countries…so they are in such a desperate condition in terms of lack of the basic necessities of life they cannot be receptive to the gospel message.
I once read that Christians in the first-century attracted new converts because these Christians were such nice people in comparison to their contemporary secular cultures. Christians were known for their hospitality in taking in the traveler, the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan.
We have to feed the hungry and clothe and house the poor…before sharing the gospel. This is a challenging gap…space…ground to cover…for every foreign missionary operating with finite and limited resources.
This is another example of the gap that is used by God in this broken world to create a context for faith to operate. The gap described above for the foreign missionary in a third world country…bringing the message of the hope of salvation through Christ…must be filled through faith in Jesus Christ to meet the immediate needs at hand….so that those providing assistance and those receiving it see the hand of God at work.
In this blog post I am not so much concerned with the practical logistics of the financing and resources coming from the home church or organization in support of the ministry outreach of the foreign missionary out in the field…both helping people and sharing the gospel simultaneously…but rather this idea that shortage of resources to solve all of the worldly needs of people sets up the dynamic tension between which to focus on first…the physical needs or the spiritual needs…or ideally both…concurrently…as resources permit.
Whether it is the massive number of the Midianite army for Gideon, or the size of Goliath for David, or the wait for the birth of the son-of-promise Isaac for Abraham, or the daunting challenges faced by Esther or by Ezra or by Nehemiah, or the overwhelming number of new converts in Jerusalem in the first days of the new Christian church to support for Peter, or the immense challenge of taking the gospel message out into the first-century Greco-Roman world for Paul…the challenge stretches us beyond our capacity within self-sufficiency and contrivance…into the zone of an adventure of faith where we need God’s active and beneficial help.
Faith, trust, patience, persistence, endurance, and the will to never give up become the tools of character that mold us into becoming overcomers through Jesus Christ our Lord and King.
This is the lesson that every missionary and servant of God must learn if the results are to have eternal value and impact.
Atheists and agnostics can do good works…all commendable and much needed…but these good works occur within the region of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…in the zone where people can accomplish good things within their own capacity and abilities…thus having temporary value but no eternal value based upon saving faith in God and an enduring relationship with Jesus Christ.
God-composed adventures of faith callings as recorded in the Bible do both…lift up the practical conditions of life for people and bring saving faith into their lives…wrapped up into one package in the saving of Egypt through Joseph plus the birth of the Jewish nation, the deliverance through Gideon, the kingship of David, the courage of Esther and Mordecai, the faith of Ruth to step out, the vision and persistence of Ezra and Nehemiah, and on and on throughout the Bible and throughout the church age.
A journey of faith rises above worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…even when commendable and praiseworthy…because a God-composed life-script written for each of us will take us upward on the vertical graph-line spectrum of good and light…where the beneficial outcomes are both practical and eternal.