Mark 2 continues to “bother” me. I talked in another post about my struggle for what this means for us and our relationships. But lately another question has been coming at me from this Scripture.
The question for those who serve others and care for the poor has long been: is it more important for me to meet their physical needs or their spiritual needs? This has been fleshed out in many different ways. One group may go and visit with the homeless and give them tracts that tell them about Jesus, or event spend their time talking to them about knowing Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Another group may go out to the same group of homeless men and spend no time talking about Jesus but rather spend their time giving them sandwiches and asking them about their health.
This story in Mark brings to light this question again for me. What is it that the men were trying to help their friend with?? Was it his spiritual life or his physical? Or both? In most people’s opinions their original reason for bringing Him to Jesus was so that He could be physically healed. But did they also believe that more might happen for this man in the presence of Jesus? What is my role as a friend of those in need? To bring them to Jesus for their physical healing and trust that more may come? Is that my only task? Or perhaps it is in the caring for people’s physical needs that the way is prepared for other conversations about Christ?
Part of my thoughts around this issue return back to a conversation several of us had around the book, “Christianity Rediscovered” by Vincent Donovan. You can read those thoughts here. Donovan as a missionary to the Masai people in Africa realized that for all the social action the church had taken (putting in schools, hospitals, etc.), while they certainly appreciated and enjoyed the services, the Masai were no closer to being followers of Christ than they had been before. So he took out to rediscover what it means to share with others the gospel of Christ.
What then is our role? What is the priority for us? Where is God at work?