Leading Question: Is it possible to hurt the needy while trying to help? And who are the needy?
Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 10:19; Leviticus 23:22; Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 4:17-19, 5:17-26
The Big Idea: Followers of Jesus should actually follow Jesus. He ministered to people’s need—whatever that need was. We should do our best to do the same.
- Few of us would argue with the idea that followers of Jesus should “help” the needy. But this belief can actually lead to some problems.
- Who are the needy?
- Should a Christian take a triage approach to the needs of the world and focus on the most serious needs? If so, what are the greatest needs of the world—are they physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual?
- What are some of the dangers of “helping” the needy?
- In Luke 4:17-19, Jesus begins his public ministry by reading a passage from Isaiah which describes his mission as focused on people who are poor, imprisoned, blind and oppressed.
- Should this also be our focus today? Is this a “social gospel”—and is this what the SDA church should be known for?
- People often say that physical needs should be tended to before we try to share the gospel with someone. People need physical “bread” before they can receive the “Bread of Life.” Do you agree?
- When Jesus talks about his coming in Matthew 25, he tells a parable about sheep and goats. In his parable, the righteous sheep are those nations who cared for the hungry, the naked, the sick, and those in prison.
- Is our humanitarian response to others the central issue in the judgment, or is this parable of Jesus making a different point?
- In the parable, the judgment is between nations, not individuals. So, what responsibility do we have to work for a society that cares for the needy? Is social activism and working to mobilize political responses to poverty a work we should be involved in?
- Deuteronomy 10:19 and Leviticus 23:22 both mention love and care for foreigners or refugees.
- What work does your local church do on behalf of refugees and foreigners?
- Are Adventists better known for welcoming refugees and immigrants, or working to keep them away?
- If you want to learn about foreigners in your own country, visit Joshuaproject.net
- Ellen White’s quote about Christ’s method of reaching people is well-known in Adventism. She says this method alone will give “true success in reaching the people.” The five steps are to mingle with people as one who desires their good, show sympathy for them, minister to their needs, win their confidence, and then bid them to follow Jesus (MH 145).
- Is there anything surprising about these five steps?
- How much mingling is safe? Would mingling include attending wedding celebrations, coming of age rituals, worship services, or funeral rites that may not be Christian?