Friday, June 08, 2007

Response #5: Have Generous Compassion On Them

(The following is part of a series of "responses to the persecuted church" based on a sermon by Eric Schumacher at An Infant in a Cradle. As a preface to his sermon, Schumacher noted: "It is important that we hear these stories. However, hearing them is not enough. We are called to respond. So, I want to ask this question...: How do we respond to the persecuted church?" I'm breaking down his "ten responses to the persecuted church," listing his suggestions and adding my thoughts.)

5. Have generous compassion on them.

The word "generous," for whatever reasons, automatically makes me think "financially," so maybe this is a good opportunity to talk about "putting your money where your mouth is." There are a lot of ways you can build the Kingdom, and specifically, serve the persecuted church, that cost little or no money at all. But the fact remains that no matter your income, as an American you are among the richest people in the world--and to whom much is given, much is required.

Of course, there are many valuable places to give. However, know that you can give to The Voice of the Martyrs with confidence., which rates Christian organizations in terms of their financial accountability, has released a "Top 30" list of ministries "in response to requests for a list of Christian ministries that are among the best to which donors can give with confidence." Voice of the Martyrs is one of those Top 30 Shining Lights, receiving four stars for efficiency and an "A" grade for transparency.

In his exhortation to give generously, Schumacher directs us to Romans 12:13--"Contribute to the needs of the saints..." and 1 John 3:16-17--"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" He continues:

Compassionate love for their imprisoned brothers and sisters in the faith was the hallmark of early Christianity. Hebrews 10:32-34 says to the early church, “you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” They were willing to suffer persecution and plundering for the sake of showing compassion to their imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus speaks of his judgment of mankind at his coming. He says that the King will receive into his kingdom those who visited him while he was in prison, naked, and without food (just as much of the church around the world is today). He says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these [brothers of mine], you did it to me.” Our care for or neglect of the persecuted church is nothing less than our care for or neglect of the Lord Jesus Christ. How are you loving Christ?

If we love Christ, then we will love his church and will be like the saints in Macedonia, who Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, who “gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” Do you “beg earnestly” to take part in relieving the suffering of Christ’s body?

Previously in this series:
Response #1: Do Not Be Surprised
Response #2: Remember Them
Response #3: Research Them
Response #4: Pray for Them

1 comment:

Zoanna said...

Excellent post, Amy. You and I have very similar passions. I'm so glad I've gotten to know you thru blogging. I don't think often enough of the persecuted church, though I've been asking God to raise my level of consciousness and compassion there. This is another of His reminders. I can say that my number 1 reason for going on this missions trip is to share in the sufferings of Christ. I've been begging earnestly for the favor to do this since I was abotu 10 years old!