Passion Should Beget Compassion
Some churches never affect their communities. They've given the people who live in them a distinct impression that says, in effect, "That church couldn't care less about us. All they care about is God, and He doesn't seem to care about us, either, or the folks who claim to be His people would show it."
Churches that lack the basic fruit of God's love in action have no credibility with their communities because they have no works to back up their words. Credibility really matters.
Nearly two decades ago, my good friends Bart and Coralee Pierce went to Baltimore to start a church. Bart said the Lord told them, "If you will take care of the ones nobody wants, I will send you the ones everybody is after."
Pastor Pierce started ministering to the drug addicts, the gutter people and the down-and-outers whom nobody else wanted. Miracles soon followed, and things began to improve in the city. Before long, the up-and-outers started coming too.
When people see you are compassionate toward humanity, they quickly realize they can trust you because you have earned credibility in their realm by backing your words with works.
Until the church comes to the place where divine passion and human compassion meet, there will be a credibility erosion. Nothing is accomplished when we merely point out the problems of our communities without providing solid solutions. I've devoted most of my energies in the last few years to creating hunger for God's presence in the church, but I am painfully aware that we will fail if our increased passion for God does not produce increased compassion for man.
Jesus established a precedent for valuing godly action at least as much as gatherings and principles of godly living. Twice in the Gospel of Luke, He answered rebukes from religious leaders for healing people on a religious day when they thought He should devote Himself to purely spiritual activities (Luke 13:15-16).
In the sense that Mary and Martha are a team, it is true that helping the hurting is as much an act of worship as anything else. How can we expect people to accept our offer to supply food for their souls if they can't trust us to provide food for their bodies?
If you lose your ability to be compassionate toward man, your ability to be useful to God in the world is limited, no matter how passionate you become toward Him. Why? Because it takes both Mary and Martha to entertain dvinity and humanity together under one roof.
God wants to fellowship with humanity, and humanity desperately needs to fellowship with divinity. Our lives and our churches become the meeting ground at the point where passion and compassion meet in God's name.
Humanity is blindly searching for its lost spiritual heritage and home. Some churches have learned how to create a place where man can rest, and a few have even learned how to create a place where God can rest.
But God is looking for a place where divinity and humanity can rest together. It's up to us to restore the Garden of Eden and make our churches a place where God and man can walk and talk together.
Jesus Was Spiritual and Practical
We cannot overlook the human factor in our corporate pursuit of God's presence. There are many Christian leaders who have the ability to lead people deeply into the realm of the Holy Spirit.
The problem is that many of them fall into the disjointed parade syndrome. They get so far out in front of the God-chaser parade that they leave the people behind.
Jesus was always aware of the practical needs of His followers. He took it upon Himself to cook the disciples a fish barbecue on the shore (John 21:3-13).
At least twice, Jesus' consideration for the humanity of the crowds following Him into wilderness areas caused Him to interrupt His teaching to tend to their physical fatigue and hunger. Each time He had them sit down while He arranged a miracle to feed thousands using fish and a few loaves of bread (Matt. 14:19-21; 15:35-39). Jesus understood that it takes Mary's passion for divinity and Martha's compassion for man to create the proper atmosphere where God and man can sit down together.
It is nearly impossible to take people into God's presence when their stomachs are growling and the temperature is 130 degrees. Things will change quickly if you erect a shelter to block the sun, give them a place to sit and feed them.
I'm convinced God wants us to be normal and supernatural at the same time. In my opinion, the house of Mary and Martha presented a perfect blend of the two.