KOH2RVA: Day 74

I need your help with something.

I got a comment on my blog a few days ago that has troubled me ever since. It’s from a woman named Sally who challenged the very foundation of our year-long, every-member mission trip. As I’ve said repeatedly, Richmond’s First Baptist Church is on a mission to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, but Sally says that’s not what Jesus would do, and suggests very strongly that it’s not what Jesus would want the church to do.

Here’s where I need your help.

Is she right about that? Because if she is, we’re wasting our time and energy. We should probably give up on this mission trip, turn the bus around, and head back home. I’m going to paste her comment below, and then ask you to comment on the comment. Let’s have a conversation about what Jesus did and what he wants us to do.

In response to an article about the future of the church Sally said: “I, too, worry about the future of those churches in America that follow the ’emergent church’ path described in this article. While I do not deny biblical instruction to help the less fortunate, that is not why Jesus said he came into this world. Jesus said he came to seek and to save the lost who are headed for eternal Hell. That’s why he died on the cross. He didn’t come to fix our world, to eliminate poverty, to put an end to slavery. Jesus didn’t even try to fix the world he lived in. A social agenda was not his focus. We should never take our eyes off heaven or the theology of sin, righteousness and judgment. Jesus did not ask us to bring heaven to earth. He asked us to believe in him, to join him in heaven for eternity and to bring as many fellow believers with us as we can.”

Is that the church’s mission? Click on “Leave a Comment” below and join the conversation.

16 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 74

  1. I think I agree with almost everything Sally said about why Jesus came and what his purpose on earth was. But I disagree with the statement that “Jesus didn’t even try to fix the world he lived in.” Yes, he did! One person at a time. And that’s what we try to do every day–fix our world one person, one situation, one relationship at a time. I have found that the people I see day in and day out don’t pay much attention to my gospel until they know that I care for them–and that includes loving them where they are and meeting their immediate needs to the best of my ability. If I then fail to share the truth of Jesus’ Gospel, shame on me!

  2. I think he did both. Of coarse our eye should be on the ultimate goal of heaven, but he cared about people and their lives here on earth. He went about doing good, enjoyed eating with sinners as well as followers. He came to change the inner man most of all, I like what the Salvation Army says “You dont preach to a hungry man, feed him first”. True we will always have the poor with us but we should do what we can. I am thankful First Baptist of Richmond has the outreach that it does. People will be in Heaven because they were reached out to as well as preached to, we must do both. Joyce Brittingham

  3. Sally’s comment is to me an excellent example of individual differences and perceptions; certainly she has the right to hold her own opinion — and to share it with others, as long as she is respectful of a different opinion from someone else. My own personal take on the subject is much more like our KOH2RVA approach: I believe Jesus asks us to believe in Him, and as a central part of that belief to demonstrate it by living a life that will show others His love and compassion. It is not easy for me to talk about by faith, but I make it a central part of my belief the “living of my days” in such a way that demonstrates that belief by following the two great commandments as best I can every day — loving my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving my neighbor as myself. Those two commandments say to me that those of us who are following that path — that mission trip out in the world in which we live — are following very closely not only what Jesus SAID, but also what He DID. Unfortunately, my experience has been that when one focuses on “sin, righteousness and judgment”, more people are turned OFF to Jesus than ON. Happily, more people are drawn by acts of love and compassion than by loud pronouncements and threats of hell-fire and damnation. I tend to measure success more by quality and quantity.

  4. I believe the biggest impact we can have to help save the church and bring people in (I do disagree with Sally’s point of view) is by loving others and leading by example. Non-believers get turned off by someone shoving God and the bible in their face and by us telling them we are right, they’re wrong and they’re going to hell if they don’t believe like us. I don’t think Jesus wants us to do that. He teaches us to love and help our neighbors. Those that are critical of the church see us out in the community, making a difference, loving our neighbors, helping our fellow man, wasn’t that’s Jesus’ ministry? People see the love of Christ through deeds. Not being hit over the head with a bible

  5. In my estimation, KOH2RVA is exactly what Jesus did (KOH2TPL, since “the promised land” is where he walked – although “the people loving/lost/living” would also all work, but I digress). While it is true that His emphasis was not on ending our versions of slavery and poverty, He did tell us to address those issues by loving our neighbors while we were loving God. The two are intertwined . I wonder if Sally just wanted us to Bring The Kingdom, not for the sake of fixing the world, rather as an expression of our devotion to the God who made us all. I interpret Sally’s “Jesus didn’t try to fix the world…” as “Jesus didn’t end suffering and hardship…”. His instructions to His friends just before Easter included “be servants”. Our worship absolutely must include making the world a better place. KOH2RVA seems to be bringing people closer to God – well done! Keep it up!

  6. I do not know enough to fully address Sally’s concerns. However, I do know that while Jesus lived on this earth he seemed to be genuinely concerned about the poor, the hungry, the destitute, the sick, the grieving, and the dispossessed. He seemed to be trying to bring a little bit of heaven to the world in which he lived and, in doing so, he was giving the people of his time and the people of our present time a little glimpse of the Heaven that Sally believes in and is writing about. Sally writes that Jesus “asked us to believe in him, to join him in heaven for eternity and to bring as many fellow believers with us as we can.” Perhaps by trying to bring Heaven to Earth today in Richmond and elsewhere by addressing the present needs of mankind, one can increase that number of believers that will find their way into that Heaven that Sally writes about.

  7. I had a professor in college who said that Augustine was the person who most influenced the formation of Christianity, Paul was the second most influential, and Jesus was third. I hope that’s not entirely true, but it certainly points out that we assume our traditions all go straight back to Jesus. When we read the gospels, we see someone who spends his time healing the sick, feeding the hungry, talking to the forgotten outcasts, serving the least of these, and telling his disciples to do the same. He says that the ways we treat the neglected are the ways that we treat him. He even teaches us to pray that God’s Kingdom will come on earth as it is in Heaven. It seems to me that, if we claim that a relationship with God can only start after we die, then we deny the importance of the incarnation. God became a person and lived among us here because our lives here are important. We are to live for God here and now – that means loving God and loving others. That connection is so powerful that it will outlast even death – but we don’t have to wait for death for it to start. Our invitation to live in the Kingdom of God and to share that Kingdom starts now.

  8. I understand Sally’s concern that while the world is plagued by rampant sin, we’re dealing with this touchy-feely, “Kumbaya” stuff. However, the mission field is changing before our eyes, and we have have to ask ourselves how to best be “fishers of men” and to make disciples. We must build relationships and help people learn to take the first step in God’s direction. Then let The Lord deal with the sin in each heart. I believe that KOH2RVA helps us do that. Maybe Jesus didn’t come to fix the world, but He did come to save it. I’m not sure there is a difference. God bless you, Sally. We’re all in the same boat and we know who will calm the seas.

  9. Sally, one person can make a difference by doing good things for others in this world. When a whole Church congregation gets involved in doing God’s Will, and yes, this is God’s Will, doing good things to help others, then we make an even greater impact. That’s what FBC is trying to do and we ARE doing it, on a daily basis!! God is so very PLEASED!! Our Mission in Life is to HELP OTHERS, and everyone who loves the Lord spends everyday doing just that!! It is making a HUGE IMPACT right here in our Community, where there is such a need to help others. I applaud FBC for undertaking this year-long Mission Trip. They’ve already accomplished far too much to turn that bus around and go home. As Christians, we have to reach out to others, one person at a time. This is EXACTLY what Jesus did, during his time on this Earth. KUDOS FBC!!

  10. As Berty said above, the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself. If we truly love them, we will be concerned about them spiritually and physically both. While we should not do the ‘bait and switch’ of giving them food in return for listening to our sales pitch, we do need to minister to the whole person. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. While there are extremes of just preaching or just feeding, both of these methods, at least to me, show a lack of true love for them. If I just preach, I show my lack if love for them as a human being made in God’ image. If I just feed them, I show a lack of love for the eternal soul that God created to be with Him forever.

  11. I agree with all the posts above. I wanted to add that I think Jesus did care about “fixing the world” or putting an end to poverty/suffering, because he tells us in John 21:17 to “feed my sheep” and in Matthew 25: 34″Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

  12. I too agree with many of the posts above, but have a personal note to add. Growing up I was taught that God was vengeful and should be feared. When I was old enough to make my own decisions, I left the church and didn’t want anything to do with a God who was, from my perspective, unloving and uncaring about the difficulties in my life. It wasn’t until I visited FBC that I started to understand that our Lord is loving and forgiving, with plenty of grace and mercy to go around to all. It took a lot of baby steps for me to trust the members of FB; I did not need nor want anyone telling me I was going to hell if I didn’t believe as they did. This year, at the age of 61, I was baptized in the river, turning my life over to Christ. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart that God wants us to love Him and one another and to show that love right here in Richmond, VA and around the world. I’m not getting back on the bus until I’ve done all I can to help bring KOH2RVA.

  13. I respect Sally’s conviction because I have wrestled with the same notion. I keeping going back to the response Jesus gave when asked which was the greatest commandment. He answered with: love God with all of your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. KOH2RVA is about showing love and compassion for the people of our community and If our motivation, is right, we are also loving and honoring God. We love because He first loved us. It’s our motivation that could be more apparent to differentiate our mission from other organizations that do so many good things in our community. I also believe that Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples. KOH2RVA challenges us to “go” and as we “go” and get involved in helping the people of our city, God will give us opportunities to make disciples. We have to recognize those opportunities and act boldly upon them. It’s then that the Kingdom of Heaven can really be experienced. So if we accept the challenge of KOH2RVA and “go” with the right motivation, be attentive to opportunities God gives us to make disciples and act boldly upon them, we will be doing what Jesus commanded us to do. Keep the bus rolling!

  14. The last part of Sally’s last sentence stated “and to bring as many fellow believers with us as we can.” In my humble opinion, KOH2RVA has the opportunity to encourage non-believers to become believers by the actions of other believers. So Sally, why not join our mission bus as we work to increase the number of believers? As the moon reflects the sun’s light so too we can reflect God’s love for all through our acts of kindness. Plenty of room on our mission bus for you Sally. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  15. Dr. Somerville,
    Thank you for re-posting my comment in its entirety. I appreciate you allowing my words to speak for themselves. Please let me reiterate that helping our neighbors, our communities, even our enemies, is a good thing. However, our good deeds save neither us nor them. Our primary responsibility as Christians is to spread the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus. Everything else is secondary. I don’t believe I suggested that we ‘shove our religion on anyone’ nor did I intimate that ‘fire and brimstone’ is the most appropriate method of witnessing. Gentleness, winsomeness is how I envision Christ-like evangalism. But to wait for the unsaved to come to us as a result of the good deeds we perform? How many have died and been lost for eternity because we were waiting for the right moment? Were you to witness to someone who knew nothing of Jesus, how would you explain his need for a redeeming savior without discussing sin, righteousness and judgment?

  16. Dear Sally, I encourage you to join us and see for yourself. You may be surprised at the other ways we can bring people to Christ besides “discussing sin, righteousness, and judgement.”
    God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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