I'm sure you're at least partly familiar with the verses I mean, Matthew 28,
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
and the Great Commandment in Matthew 22, Luke 10, Mark 12 of loving your neighbour as yourself. Romans 13 puts it as such:
9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
and we shouldn't forget that many of the laws are also feeding the poor, widowed and orphaned. Giving generously. Doing things that disadvantages yourself for the benefit of others.
So now I come to Left Behind (again)(man I love this blog).
"I wake up every morning," [LaHaye] says, "and I see this beautiful place, and that drop-dead gorgeous view of the mountains, and I think, 'This is fantastic.' Because God is faithful." How does he reconcile that with Jesus' injunction to sell all you have and give to the poor? "I can accomplish far more from my present lifestyle and the giving that I do to Christian work," he says. "If I just sold everything and gave it to the poor, I can't see where that would advance the gospel as much as I'm doing." But wouldn't it advance the poor? "Well," he says, "you know how much I pay in taxes?"*
Fred Clark, the Slacktivist blogger gets into some questioning about where LaHaye's priorities are, which gets me thinking about mine.
I'd thought for a while now, that one of the most loving things I can do is share the gospel with people, because it's an eternal matter. Things of this world are only going to pass away anyway. But that's not true. While it is loving to do this, it is not by far the most loving thing to do. The most loving is to love my neighbour. And how do I do this? By giving generously, by helping the poor, widowed and orphaned, etc. I think I've been getting the great commission and the great commandment confused. I don't think I've been doing one to the exclusion of the other, but I think it's good to set my priorities straight anyway.
I've had a few conversations with greygnome about my mission trip which has already helped to put me straight on a few things. That is, even if my trip to Japan results in no one becoming Christian, my trip is not a waste. If I could feed all the hungry in the world and no one came to Christ because of it, it is still not a waste of time/money/food. Because in doing that, I would have obeyed God when he told me to love my neighbour. Now I hope that in doing it, it would have opened up doors to talk about Jesus, but it should never be a condition of the massive feeding event.
In any event, it's the work of The Spirit to cause our efforts to bear fruit. What God requires of me is to obey his law and be faithful. He will bear the fruit of my ministry. If he says that there will be no fruit, then at least I've been faithful. :) If I tell all the hungry about Jesus and no one responds to it, then that isn't waste of resources either. I hope that there will never be a situation where I have to choose between talking about Jesus and feeding the person I'm talking with. But if there is, perhaps it's more loving just to feed them.
I think, in the letters of Paul, he writes more about showing love than spreading the Gospel. And maybe, in showing love, we are spreading the Gospel, the good news of generosity that is ultimately provided by God, shown in Jesus on the cross. And so I think I've grasped it. Showing love is showing the Gospel. Just look at Titus 2
1You[Titus] must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
6Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
9Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.
11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
15These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
*Gates, David. (2004) "The Pop Prophets" Newsweek