Lent – Day 20 – Jesus Questions

“Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

Welcome to the halfway mark of Lent. If you’d like to create some extra space for God in your life through prayer and fasting, why not jump into a half-Lent experience? You could start today. If you’ve been on this journey already for the past 20 days, I hope you have found joy and spiritual meaning in this season of special attentiveness and focus.

Food and ClothingGrowing up, somehow I came to believe that people needed the Gospel far more than they needed food and shelter. Consequently, I criticized the “social Gospel” for its attention to physical well-being and neglect of spiritual assurance. After all, the body is temporal but the soul is eternal. Let God worry about feeding and clothing people; we’ll preach to them.

Then, in College I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Long before we get to self-actualization we must address our most fundamental needs: physiological and safety needs. That made sense and made me stop and think afresh. Perhaps it’s not either this or that, but both this and that.

I could construe today’s Jesus Question as support for my earlier views. Forget about material needs, and focus instead on the soul-needs of people. But this conclusion would misconstrue Jesus’ intent.

“Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?”

Indeed it does. But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not pit the material against the spiritual. He simply addresses our tendency to worry about everything, even the lesser things.

Since Lent ideally incorporates the idea of generosity, I wonder if today we might be part of the solution to someone else’s prayer; someone who has physical needs? What might happen if all of God’s people in all places would resolve to care for the physical needs of each other and the least of these? Can you imagine? Might we then begin to see less worry and more faith in the lives of those around us?

Some people may push back on any call to such generosity. “Let people retain their dignity by providing for themselves!” some might say. “Don’t demean someone else by suggesting that their circumstances need your help,” others will opine.

Yes, life is more than food and clothing, but perhaps most of us can only truly attend to our spiritual lives once we have addressed these most basic physical needs. After all, “What use is it to say to someone ‘Go in peace, be warm, and be filled’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body?” (James 2:16)

Today, look for someone to bless with the basic needs. Faith does that, and faith flows from that.

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6 Responses to Lent – Day 20 – Jesus Questions

  1. Ted says:

    We have so many poor among us. Are you aware how NW Medical Teams started? A Jesus follower was driving thought Skid Row in Portland one winters evening and noticed a fellow shivering. Knowing he had a car blanket, he got out and gave it. He also noticed others near by. Whether he said anything I don’t know, but he did call around as soon as he got home – pre-cell phone. He got a load of blankets and went back. Noting many had no shoes he said he’d be back the next night, and did, and so it grew one need at a time.

  2. Jan Neff says:

    I’ve been wondering if what’s happening in Washington, what’s going on with the budget, will give the Church its opportunity to stand up and fill in gaps we should have been filling all along instead of letting more govt programs evolve. Maybe we can have a finest hour for the Church if we can get a vision such as was shared above?

    • David Timms says:

      I’m sure you’re correct, Jan. The Church has always been on the forefront of social justice and social service, including rescuing abandoned infants from garbage dumps in the first century, and building hospitals for lepers and schools for the poor throughout the centuries. New opportunities await, for sure!

  3. Barry Thygesen says:

    Great discussion question David. I have had al sorts of feelings on this question having been brought up when dad couldn’t work due to asthma so very little food and patched on school clothing. Really appreciated being given hand me downs from more well off aunties etc. After wrestling with this as a Christian it has been a deep motivation to rather than be an either or to see this as a bridge / opportunity to be generous and to build relationship that have had people come to Jesus. It is explained to me through some inventories I’ve done that this could well be a pathway for me to be worshipping God and another may feel closer to Father as an evangelist just sharing the Gospel. Maybe there would be a better synergy if we worked together as a spiritual family?
    Thank you again for these posts. Withdrawal from TV has been a challenge but is getting easier as we go along. Blessings

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