Meeting Needs & Saving Souls
Chan Gin Kai
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. (Luke 5:13-15)
Jesus healed a leper and then instructed him to show himself to the priest and offer sacrifices. That was the process required by Jewish law for the man to be pronounced clean and reintegrated back into society. There was no cure for leprosy back then and lepers were outcasts. So a leper who was cured and accepted back into society would generate an incredible buzz. Jesus knew the effect it would create and thus ordered the man not to tell anyone that he had cured him.
Instead he (the leper) went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news (Mark 1:45).
The leper was physically wasting away, he was cut off from family and society, but he found a second chance at life when Jesus healed him. It was hard for the man to hold back from sharing his joy with others. Many people who knew about his incurable condition would definitely ask him how he was cured. And others who wanted to seek a cure for themselves or their loved ones would have asked him too. So the man "began to talk freely".
It is ironic that the man who was ordered not to tell anyone told everyone, while we who are commanded to tell everyone often tell no one.
Obsession With Our Needs
Jesus loves genuinely. Each time he saw a person who was hungry or sick or demon-possessed, he would never hesitate to help them. He lovingly attended to every individual who had an earthly need. As disciples of Christ, we are to love as Jesus loves. Just as he lovingly met the needs of everyone who approached him, we must never hesitate to serve those who are in need too. Meeting the physical, emotional, health and financial needs of others is a natural extension of our love. It reflects if we have the character of Christ.
So why didn’t Jesus want the man cured of leprosy to tell others about him? It was because he didn’t want the crowd to seek him for the wrong reasons. He didn’t want people flocking to him out of curiosity, to see a sensational miracle, or only to get their earthly needs met.
Like the crowd that flocked to Jesus, many people go to church today to get their earthly needs met. Church is after all a place where we’ll find better friends. We get free marriage counselling, parenting tips, personal mentorship and more. People pay a fortune for these services outside church, but we have loving brothers and sisters to help us. We often grow entitled and take the meeting of our earthly needs for granted. We start thinking it is owed to us and grumble when we think we are not adequately served.
It is well and good that we can get our needs met in church. But we need to remember that our purpose for going to church is to draw closer to God. We gather to worship and serve Him, not to get served.
Let's not forget that there are others with far greater earthly needs than we have. We are already saved. We are generally in a far better emotional state than people who do not have a relationship with God. Most of us are in better financial conditions than the majority of the world too. Let's not get obsessed with the meeting of our needs and forget others who need help more than we do.
Forgetting The Lost
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Jesus was clear about his objective. He knew why God had sent him to us; and it certainly wasn’t to meet people’s earthly needs. He wasn't sent to be a doctor or an exorcist. He came to die for us and bring us spiritual salvation. He was focused on his goal of bringing people to God, and to ultimately die on the cross, so that we can be saved.
Jesus' love motivates him to help everyone who has an earthly need. But he is focused on the far greater need that all of us have - our spiritual needs. We need God, and we need salvation.
As leaders serving in God's Kingdom, we want to imitate Jesus' love and be motivated to meet people's earthly needs. But let's not allow these needs to distract us from our far more important role of leading people to Christ.
Physical, emotional, health and financial needs only affect people's lives on earth. But spiritual needs affect people's eternal destiny. The problem is, people are usually aware of their earthly needs but unaware of their spiritual ones. So they talk more about their earthly needs. They complain about their marriage. They worry about their finances. They share their emotional pains. Let's not only help them with these needs, but always bring them closer to God as well.
Do we meet some needs but neglect others?
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".