Summary: What makes a church a church of Christian Outreach?
What is Christian Outreach?
How can you change the world? This is the question asked in the movie, “Pay It Forward.” Let watch a little of that movie.
We here at Living Faith also believe in paying it forward.
Reaching out the people in need is one of the foundations of this church.
Read with me our value statement about Outreach.
“We are committed to meeting the needs of those around us in a humble gentle spirit of love.”
But the little boy in our movie was the first one to suggest paying it forward. Jesus came up with the idea over 2000 years ago.
1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
The story is told of an eastern ascetic holy man who covered himself with ashes as a sign of humility and regularly sat on a prominent street corner of his city. When tourists asked permission to take his picture, the mystic would rearrange his ashes to give the best image of destitution and humility.
A great deal of religion today amounts to nothing more than rearranging religious “ashes” to impress the world with one’s supposed humility and devotion. The problem, of course, is that the humility is a sham, and the devotion is to self, not to God. Such religion is nothing more than a game of pretense, a game at which the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were masters. Because their religion was mostly an act, and a mockery of God’s true revealed way for His people, Jesus’ most blistering denunciations were reserved for them.
Hypocrisy is never treated lightly in Scripture. Through Amos, God said, “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21–24).
Notice, all of those religious acts had been prescribed by God; but because they were performed insincerely and were not accompanied by righteous living they were not acceptable to God. The sacrifices, offerings, and songs were not given to God’s glory but to the people’s own glory and self-satisfaction.
John MacArthur tells about, a man who came into his office one Sunday and told him it was his first time to worship with us and that he intended to make our church his church home. He then handed John a generous check, with the promise that he would receive one just like it every week. John told him he did not want to receive his checks personally and suggested that he should give anonymously as the rest of the church family did. If he had continued to give a large amount every Sunday, there was no good reason for him to have announced his generosity to John or to anyone else. How much better for him simply to have put the check in the offering during a service.
Outside of idolatry, the greatest sin both in Judah and Israel was hypocritical religion. And I know we do not want to be guilty of such a gross sin. So what will guard us from this great sin.
Let’s look again at this teaching from Jesus.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (6:3–4)
To not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing was a proverbial expression that simply referred to doing something spontaneously, with no special effort or show. The right hand was considered the primary hand of action, and in a normal day’s work the right hand would do many things as a matter of course that would not involve the left hand. Giving to help those in need should be a normal activity of the Christian, and he should do it as simply, directly, and discreetly as possible.