In SIM we think a lot about how to integrate faith and good deeds. In our Western mindset these are often separate.
One of our missionaries returned home this week and told us that in her country, Christian medical doctors put “faith” and “work” in separate categories. So it is difficult for them to imagine how to keep them together.
Jesus healed people physically but also ministered to their souls. He knew when to show love and he knew when to speak the words of God to people. The ministered to the whole man; there was no separation of faith and work.
One unifying theme that runs through all of Jesus life and ministry is love. John tells us that “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God.” Jesus life was motivated by the love of God and love for people. Ultimately His death the cross was the supreme evidence of that love — rescuing us from eternal suffering for sin, and also restoring us to right relationships with God and others. The cross integrates faith and work.
My missionary friend invited another experienced visiting missionary doctor to a lunch meeting where he was asked by younger Christian doctors, “how can you imagine us bringing faith into the chaos of this urban hospital?”
“Remember those patients we saw lying on the floor this morning?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
“Do you think any of them might appreciate prayer?”
“Well, yes,” they replied again.
“How can we find a way, in your cultural context, to love them enough that they would might invite you to pray for them?”
It was the beginning of a journey to bridge that gap between ‘faith’ and ‘work.’ Or more precisely, it was a call to really look into the eyes of individual patients and families and see them as made in the image of God, not just as people with physical needs.
Jesus leads us to do this because of His love for people. He wants them to know love, since it powerfully communicates who He is, and also opens up opportunities to know Him though words that also come from Him.