Summary: This is a sermon about World Hunger. (The statistics need to be updated to be current).
OUR MORAL OBLIGATION
INTRO: A pastor tells of a mission tour to the Far East. While in Hong Kong, he observed a hungry little girl outside a bakery window. She had fallen asleep with her face pressed against the window that separated her from the fresh bread inside. He took slides of that scene. When sharing his slide presentation back home, the pastor always climaxed his sermon with that picture and an appeal for people to share Christ, the Living Bread, with a hungry world.
Following one presentation, one worshiper asked him, “What did you do about it?” “About what?” the pastor replied. “About the little girl asleep at the bakery window, what did you do about that?”
To many Americans hunger is dinner a little late, causing a slight discomfort. In our world, one billion people live in a state of absolute poverty. Of that number, the best estimates indicate 700 million people live in a state of constant hunger in a world that, according to experts, has enough grain for everyone to have three thousand calories to consume each day. For these hundreds of millions, hunger is a half-filled bowl once a day. Twenty million people die each year of starvation or hunger-related diseases — twelve million of those are children under the age of five. If all of the world’s hungry were lined up one yard apart, the line would circle the globe twenty-five times.
In the US, fifteen percent of our population lives under the poverty level. An extensive study done by the Harvard School of Public Health found hunger in every state, every town, and every rural area examined. The researchers said, “We went into no region without finding hunger.”
What will we do about world hunger? Christians have the ability and resources to relieve world hunger. The Bible speaks to us about our moral obligation and challenges us to become actively involved.
I. FEEDING THE WORLD’S HUNGRY DEFINES OUR MORAL OBLIGATION.
The apostle Paul was a tremendous preacher, a powerful missionary, and a dynamic witness for Christ. But he was also concerned about social problems. Economic sharing is an important theme in his writings. Paul collected a special offering for the poor at Jerusalem.
He was eager to remember the poor and to assist the destitute in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:10).
In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul postponed his mission trip to Spain to deliver hunger aid personally. He was pleased the Christians in Macedonia and Achaia had already made “some contributions for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem” (15:26). Not only were they pleased to do it, but the text says they were obligated to do it. (15:27).
The clear directives of Scripture leave no doubt as to our moral obligation for the poor and the hungry.
II. FEEDING THE WORLD’S HUNGRY DEMANDS OUR PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT.
The question with which we all struggle is, What can one person or one church do? The need is so overwhelming. A proverb of the Swahili tribe says, “Drop by drop the bucket fills.” What one person or one church does often seems to be “just a drop in the bucket.” But everyone adding “drops” can fill the bucket. Every one of us can become involved personally.
Systematic. — Personal involvement must be systematic. In 1 Cor, Paul referred again to the Jerusalem collection and gave instructions to the Corinthian Christians to give systematically for those in material need (1 Corinthians 16:2). Systematic giving to special needs is the practical side of good stewardship.
Southern Baptist offer the best channels for dispersing hunger relief. The Southern Baptist hunger ministry is unique because 100 percent of hunger gifts are sent directly to meet hunger needs. Unlike other fund-raising and relief programs, no monies for hunger are used for administrative and promotional costs. The Southern Baptist system for distribution is already in place through our missionaries. The Southern Baptist system maintains a dual emphasis. Our missionaries and mission volunteers are involved not only in meeting physical needs, but they also minister and witness to the hungry spiritually.
Sacrificial. — Personal involvement must also be sacrificial. Paul’s strongest words to the Corinthians about this special collection came in his second letter to the church at Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 8-9, he again held up the example of the churches in Macedonia (8:2). They gave according to their means and beyond their means. Their joyous, sacrificial, and unexpected gifts were used to challenge the Corinthians to demonstrate genuine love. Paul thus challenged the Corinthians to give sacrificially to this hunger offering (8:13-14).
When we consider our gifts to world hunger, the hard reality is that our giving has been far from sacrificial. In 1986, Southern Baptists gave nine million dollars to world hunger. That certainly indicates some sacrificial giving but in reality represents less than one dollar per church member. Last year our church gave $117. Surely we can do better. Just think of what the gift would be if Southern Baptists gave just five dollars per member!