Social service and Christianity

Acts 6:1-10

 

Christianity in India has been existent since 52AD and surprisingly even today it has been considered a foreign (western) religion. If we see the very early Indian Christians were never differentiated from others, the clothes they wore or way they lived would not be differentiated from the other Indians. Christianity in India took a western outlook only after the British and Portuguese (Catholic roots) came into India. Christianity was never tradition rooted (clothes, outlook, ornaments, routine etc.) in the start therefore the people mixed well with others unlike we see this in Judaism. Judaism has its roots in India from 500-600BC but because of it strong traditional culture its people always stand out in any community. It is only among the non-orthodox Jews who do not go by the letter we find they mix well into society. Muslims too having to follow their traditions and culture by the letter always stand out from among any society.

 

What we see in India Christianity degraded and of late has come back to mature. You may wonder at this comment of mine, this you would know from today’s message.

 

We see in today’s message early Christians were guided by the Apostles who were very much in the Lord and were led by the Spirit of God. We see in this incident which was the first revolt or fight among Christians happen because they grouped themselves according to their cultural roots. To meet their daily food requirements the Apostles ran a kitchen service and these people started fighting due to cultural racism. Since they were people in need the Apostles had to run this service but we see the Apostles did not want to put aside the more important work they were called for by looking after the physical needs of the people, they preferred concentrating on meeting the more urgent spiritual needs.

 

In India after the death of the Apostle Thomas, there were 7 large Churches that started in the south. The early Christians concentrated on evangelism they gave the Gospel and saved souls. Later on the coming of the Roman Catholic Church and Word of God being taken away from the people we see the growth of Christianity has been stagnant or minuscule, the reason of this being the concentration of this Church on social service (works).

 

Social service is very important, like James says if I love my brother and do not clothe/feed him when he is naked/hungry then my love is a lie. But Christianity is more about saving souls and not about helping people live well in this world. It is about preparing them to enter the next real world.

 

There is a phrase which states teach the hungry to fish and he will not go hungry. We like foolish people have been feeding the hungry all our lives but did not bring them to know their God who is their provider. We see Jesus pushed His disciples to learn this by sending 70 of them out on a mission without any resource on themselves, not even water. They had just the clothes on their body, a pair of sandals that they had worn and a rod in their hands. And we read they were provided for their every need. It is also written they saw great wonders happening during this mission.

 

We see in today’s message the Apostles gave the task of social service to the younger, maturing Christians so that they learn to grow in love for the people and grow in faith. But these people while serving the people also concentrated on spiritual things and started to evangelize more powerfully.

 

In India Christians are just 4 percent of the population but they do almost 40percent of social service in various areas of society. Since these people do not concentrate on spiritual growth, spiritual maturity has always been lacked among Indian Christians that is why Christianity never took off in India.

 

We Christians are not saved by good works or works of righteousness but are saved by works of faith after we come into the grace of Jesus Christ. Only when we are in the Lord can we show the light through the things we do being led by the Spirit of God.

 

Let us not be deceived by following worldly understanding or ways but follow the ways of the Lord which are life and eternal. What is written in the Word of God is valid even today in this modern age, only if we understand it well.

 

[Prayer Starter]

Lord, your people are deceived to become religious or worldly righteous people. Even though they are far from the understanding of your Kingdom they think they can do good works. They think the works that they do will manifest You and your Kingdom. Instead of drawing the people to You they draw people to themselves and make people in to human worshipers. Lord we pray for wisdom to your people that they understand their priorities well…

 

This prayer we make in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

[Reference Scriptures]

Acts 6:1-10

1  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

2  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

3  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

6  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

9  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

 

Romans 3:27 – Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

 

James 2:22 – Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 

James 2:26 – For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

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