SHINE: DOWN AND DIRTY IN THE DITCHES
The following is my notes for Part 2 of the GCC teaching series, “Shine.”. Copyright 2012, Terry Broadwater. For personal use only. For all other uses contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes you don’t realize how dirty something is until you shine a light on it! The crawl space under our house in Leesburg! Seen the Fabreeze commercial?
Shining a light on a place like that causes two reactions: 1) “Hurry up, turn the light off so we don’t have to see all that dirt!” or 2) “Now that I know how dirty this is, I need to do something about it!”
In Part 1 of this series, we established that Jesus is the Light of the World (Jn. 8:12)- He brings “revelation” that darkness has been defeated and that by following him we will have the light that leads to life. But, Jesus also calls us “children of the Light” (Jn. 12:36) and that we are to be “the light of the world… and to let our good deeds SHINE out for all to see…” Mt. 5:14, 16. That’s what we want to focus on today.
HOW DO WE PARTNER THE MESSAGE- THE REVELATION OF JESUS, WITH THE METHODS- THE RESPONSE OF GOOD DEEDS AND SHINE??
Note Lu. 10:30-37… “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip… and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a Jewish priest came along; but when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man he felt deep pity. Kneeling down beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. ‘If his bill runs higher than that,’ he said, ‘I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here.’ Jesus went on to say that we should “go and do the same.”
Jesus, in this story, shines the light on several key things…
“Darkness” causes bad things to be done by, and to people!
Religious people don’t solve any problems for people in the ditches of life!
“Children of the Light” will get down and dirty in the ditches!
When the “light that leads to life” shines on people’s life; especially when it reveals their poor condition, we have a responsibility to reach into their lives, get down in the ditch if necessary, get our hands dirty, and elevate them to a position of honor, respect, and dignity!
Note Ps. 113:7-9 “…He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the barren woman a home, so that she becomes a happy mother. Praise the Lord!” Notice:
ELEVATE the poor from the dirt- what soils and stains lives: sin!
ELEVATE the needy from the dumps- disadvantaged and their disadvantages: social!
ELEVATE the barren from desolation- “inferior” and “isolated”: sorrows!
Today, Hollywood stars, musicians, wealthy business people are focusing on the plight of the impoverished more than ever before! But where is the church? Are we shining the light of Jesus’ love, compassion, and mercy or do we turn and walk the other way??
Look at Deut. 15:7-11 “But if there are any poor people in your towns…, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them. Instead, be generous and lend them whatever they need. Do not be mean-spirited and refuse someone a loan because the year of release is close at hand… Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor…”
Even though this is an OT reference, God is calling us to shine the light of his love and mercy to those less fortunate than us. Here’s the thing about these verses …in every 7th year your debt would be forgiven, your slaves would go free, your mortgage gone! Let’s bring back the OT! In the year of release, don’t find excuses for not helping people. “When I’m freed from debt, etc.” “When we get this building paid for, when we get our general fund…” It’s amazing how that “when” never comes!” But, in the “year of release” there are no excuses. We need to stop making excuses when the “light” reveals there is need- even if it means we have to get down and dirty in the ditches!
Verse 11 “The poor will never cease from the land…” There will always be the poor- “your poor!” Speaking of “Israel’s” poor- the “Church’s” poor, GCC’s “poor” here in Denver…
Note Mark 14:3-7… “…During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume. She broke the seal and poured the perfume over his head. Some of those at the table were indignant. ‘Why was this expensive perfume wasted?’ they asked. ‘She could have sold it for a small fortune and given the money to the poor!’ And they scolded her harshly. But Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone. Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But I will not be here with you much longer.’” Here’s this woman pouring perfume, worth one year’s wages, on Jesus’ feet- it could have been given to the poor! Jesus said, “You’ll always have the poor and whenever you wish you can help them- still focus on me!”
So, what’s going on? The Good Samaritan is made a hero for shining the light of God’s love and mercy on the man in the ditch, helping the poor; while the woman is harshly scolded for not doing so. What’s being said?
We must Bless “Socially”
We must Build “Spiritually” too…
Don’t miss this: Jesus is saying, bless socially, but also build spiritually. Now we’ll talk more about that in a moment. But, let’s first answer the question of “why we will always have the poor among us?” as Jesus stated. The facts are:
1.3 billion people living on less than $1 day. 3 billion live on less than $2 day. Unless these people live right next to us, we wouldn’t know this. 1.3 billion have no access to clean water, 3.7 billion no adequate sanitation, 2 billion have no access to electricity- it’s a world of massive need.
And in the western world, we have the capability, the resource to make a real difference- here and there!
In the OT, Deuteronomy says it, and in the NT Jesus says, we will always have the poor among us. Why?
THE PURSUITS OF THE RICH
James 1:11 “The hot sun rises and dries up the grass; the flower withers, and its beauty fades away. So also, wealthy people will fade away with all their achievements.”
God really doesn’t have a problem with people’s pocketbooks! God’s problem is with people’s pursuits! We’re not to love money- we are to love people, and the issue is our pursuits- as people and as churches!
The gross national product, essentially the wealth, of the 48 poorest nations in the world is less than the wealth of the 3 richest people in the world! That’s one fourth of the world’s nations! Any of those three people here today? The world’s 7 richest people have enough money to wipe out third world poverty! In their hand! Seven people could pay for the basic needs of a quarter of the world’s population. Americans spend 35 billion dollars on weight loss products (CBS News); 3.5 billion on boarding our pets (CBS News); 5 billion on Halloween (NPR); 2.5 billion yearly on prescription sleeping pills (Marketwire); 30 billion every year to maintain our lawns (foodnotlawns.com); 4 billion each year on ice cream (wemarket4u); 151 billion on narcotics (Time); 250 billion yearly on gifts (timelime.com); 821 billion on food (Looksmart); 8 billion on cosmetics, 1 billion to color our hair (e-source news); 8 billion on plastic surgery (fool.com)…
It’s the pursuits of the wealthy that keep the poor poor! Poverty doesn’t go away even if the world’s seven richest men bailed out those 48 poorest nations, because poverty reinvents itself!
And because the light is shined on those who are down and dirty in the ditches, we now have the responsibility to shine the light of Jesus love, compassion, and mercy. We can’t do it all for everyone, but like the Good Samaritan, we can help the one we come across in our daily travels…
THE IMPERFECTION OF THE WORLD
God created a paradise and we made it a slum! There’s sickness and disease and pestilences and… Because of this fallen world there’s crime and injustice and greed and inequality…
Prov. 13:23 “A poor person’s farm may produce much food, but injustice sweeps it away!” The food is there, in the ground, but because of injustice, inequality, discrimination, the fat get fatter and the weak, weaker!
But, even if you take a poor man out of poverty, etc. if he makes some wrong choices he’s going to fall right back into poverty again and probably be worse off than at the beginning! Mother Teresa said, “You’re not going to relieve a poor man of his poverty just by giving him money.” There’s got to be a bigger solution. Listen, I strongly believe we need to “give” money and resource… Be a blessing, be generous, etc.
BUT, there’s got to be more. The solution is not to simply give more, but to give it all! And the Church has the “all!” It’s the message of Good News- it’s shining the light in the darkest, deepest, dirtiest ditches; “letting our good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” Mt. 5:16. But here’s what happens….
THE PROBLEM OF RELIGION
Religion causes far more problems than it solves! We can talk about parts of the world where there is absolute abject poverty, and I’ve visited and seen such places, and yet cows are sacred! But that’s not what I’m really talking about! Or we can talk about parts of the world where under the name of Allah or God or Islam and sadly under the name of Christianity there have been wars and strife and hatred and suffering! But even that is not what we’re really talking about! I’m talking more about the problem of religion, the ineptness of it when it comes to the power of Jesus Christ to make a difference!
Religion and religious mindsets miss the whole point of what it means to “Be the light of the world… and to let our good deeds SHINE out for all to see” Mt. 5:14, 16. Remember too, what Jesus said in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…” There must be an understanding of the importance of the “power” or “supernatural ability/capability” that enables us to “shine out” and “minister” to those who need it most of all!
Without that “power” or “enablement”, or what Jesus refers to as the “anointing” we will fail the poor in providing for their greatest need of all- salvation alone in Jesus Christ!
“Being the light of the world, shining out through good deeds,” is ultimately about bringing Jesus Christ into every situation! The woman in Mark 14 wanted to build the spiritual side of her life and people said, “what a waste!” “That could have been sold and given to the poor!” And Jesus said, “you’ll always have the poor with you but you won’t always have me!” And incidentally, after the resurrection of Jesus, when we do give or do for the poor, we do give or do, to him (Mt. 25).
What the “religious” were doing to this woman was criticizing her for building the spiritual side of her life and saying you should give to the poor instead. But Jesus said, “I am anointed to preach the gospel to the poor!” It’s not enough to just bless the poor socially, we must also be able to build them up spiritually- this is the example of the “Good Samaritan” and “the woman.” The “religious” ignored the man in the ditch, although there was probably a donation made to a benevolence fund!
The real power to make a difference in someone’s life and to “shine out” for Christ is not only in the “money” we give, but more importantly in the “message” we preach!
The message is the Good News of Salvation! If we fail on the spiritual side and we just have a religion of “good works”, doing some “good things” without the anointing of “Jesus” on us, in us, we’re not going to really make “the difference” that we need to make! The anointing is in the message, the gospel, and people criticized it and still do today!
What I’m saying is that we cannot simply be about the social side, nor can we simply just be about the spiritual side; but the two must work together! THAT’S HOW WE BRING THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD TO THOSE DOWN AND DIRTY IN THE DITCHES AND OUR GOOD DEEDS SHINE OUT!!
1 Thess. 1:5 “For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message.”
We don’t bring “good news” of just words, or “good news” of just works, but “good news” of revelation power and response! When you build spiritually, you will bless socially! You will SHINE OUT with the “message” and the “method” of transformation!
Note again, Ps. 113:7-9 “…He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the barren woman a home, so that she becomes a happy mother. Praise the Lord!”
SHINE means that we reveal Jesus and respond as Jesus would; especially to those whose lives are down and dirty in the ditches and dumps of life; those we encounter along the way of life.
It means we elevate, “lift the poor out of the dirt” by getting dirty in the ditches with people… We meet the needs of those who are living in the dumps… We go to the barren and the desolate and… give them a home, a family! This house and this family! And we work together on the social side and the spiritual side and people are transformed! God “sets them among princes!”
People ultimately need transformation! If we’ll more intentionally build the spiritual and the social; prioritize it, and not just talk about it or think we’re doing it, but be willing to examine and evaluate our lives and our ministries and ask, “do we do that?” “Does this ministry do that? Does it build the spiritual and the social? Does it elevate people out of the dirt, the dumps, the desolation, spiritually and socially??? Does in “shine the light” like that??
And if it doesn’t then we quit doing it, we quit pretending that it does. Remember, Jesus embraces the poor, but he doesn’t embrace their poverty! Listen, P 2 Cor. 8:9 “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich!”
Jesus shined the light of God’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion and stepped into the dirt, the dumps, the desolation! But why? To be just like us? To be dirty like we were? To live in the dump- socially and spiritually like we do? To be barren and desolate like us?
No, to elevate our lives, to lift us up, and to seat us with him in heavenly places! (Eph. 2:6). He took the punishment not so we could be poor, but so we could be rich!!! Jesus doesn’t embrace a poverty mindset or the poverty; he embraces the poor so the poor can be rich! Rich in his power and anointing and yes, even rich in the resources to keep lifting others out of the same dirt, the same dumps, the same desolation we were once in!
And Jesus says, “Go and be light like that, bring that revelation and response to those who need it most! Go and shine through the message of hope and the methods of helps!