Last week, we preached from Matthew 9 and cast a vision for being a community that welcomes sinners like Jesus. We said “a hospital for sinners” and not “a museum for saints” is what we’re shooting for. This week, we preached from Luke 10 and cast a vision for being a community that shows mercy and compassion like Jesus. I am so grateful to God for how these sermons fell back to back in our series. Here’s why.
Usually, we tend to run to one of two poles when it comes to ministries of the Word and ministries of deeds. On the one side, you’ve got folks who eat up theology and love doctrine and care deeply about truth and the proclamation of truth. They love evangelism and are constantly calling the church to be on mission, to build relationships with people and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. Preaching and teaching – after all this is what Jesus was about. Their slogan comes from Mark’s Gospel, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” It’s the soul that matters not the body, right?
On the other side, you’ve got folks who are not about words, because they’re about deeds. Forget what you say with your mouth; the real question is what are you doing with your life, with your hands and feet? They love ministries of mercy and compassion and social justice. They are constantly calling the church to engage in the margins like Jesus. Serving the poor, helping the oppressed, ministering to the sick – after all this is what Jesus was about. Their slogan comes from James, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” Faith without works is dead, right?
But here’s the thing. This is not an “either-or”, but a “both-and”. They are two sides to the same coin; one is heads and the other is tails. Right hand. Left hand. Ministry to the soul and ministry to the body. Being on mission is to proclaim the Gospel with our words and to proclaim the Gospel with our deeds. At Seven Mile Road, we will only be a faithful gospel community if we embrace this duality.
So, a community that calls people to follow Jesus with our words and serves people like Jesus with our deeds. That’s what we’re after.