Meeting people at their point of need

There have been some fascinating and insightful responses to this series of posts on having a social impact. Here are some of them.

Gary said:

Jesus wasn't going around thinking "How can I have social impact in this town today?" Being about His Father's business included that aspect as well. My point was that if we do the works of Jesus, and focus on things from a spiritual perspective, we'll have the social impact we're looking for. If we come at the problem from a purely "social impact" perspective, and are only concerned about how we can impact people's physical needs and fail to preach the gospel, we have failed.

Gary again:

While many are trumpeting social impact/issues, they usually forget the spiritual aspect. To spread Jesus without taking care of a person's material needs is not really helping the cause of Christ that much. After all, Jesus was concerned about the whole man not just the spiritual. Feed someone first and then they are more readily willing to accept the "why" behind what you did. My point was–and is–that to talk about "social impact" without including the real gospel being preached is to miss the mark.

Dan said:

To go too far that direction (of only preaching the Gospel) would create an imbalance in the teachings of Jesus. I think evangelicals in general over the last 40-50 years have been mostly out of balance in that direction. Many openings for the Gospel have been created in recent years through groups like World Vision, Samaritan's Purse and my denomination's ReachGlobal ministries that are going into Muslim countries and unreached areas to help those suffering from natural disasters, hunger disease, etc.

UnkleE said:

"Jesus wasn't about social impact; He was about his Father's business"  Jesus said caring for people was his mission – see Luke 4:18-21:  So proclaiming good news of the Lord's favor, setting the oppressed free, freeing prisoners and healing blindness are all parts of Jesus' mission. And it is clear from Jesus' ministry that he was addressing both spiritual and physical blindness, oppression, captivity and freedom. When he sent his followers out to teach the kingdom of God, he told them to do both physical and spiritual ministry – Luke 10:9: "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’" Then he tells us to go out and do the same – Matthew 28:18-19: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." What he had commanded them was both physical and spiritual ministry, and that is surely what he still commands us to do today. So if we want to truly follow Jesus, we won't miss either aspect of the good news of the kingdom of God.

Jesus met people at their point of need. If their need was physical, he ministered to that need (healing, feeding the five thousand–even providing wine for a wedding) and that opened the way to speak about the Kingdom. If their needs were emotional, he dealt with those (deliverance, reassurance of God's provision etc). He taught on Kingdom lifestyle (Sermon on the Mount). And obviously, he dealt with people's spiritual needs by giving them the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Good news to the poor

Here is how Jesus characterized his own ministry in Luke 4: 17-21:

And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 
    "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
         BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
         HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
         AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
         TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 
    TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."

 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

When we lived and worked in the East End of London in the UK, at that stage a very socially deprived and poor area, historically one of the problems the churches there faced was that when people became Christians, in general, their physical/financial situation improved to the point that they could move out of the area.  That is to say, the impact of the Gospel was not just spiritual, it affected other aspects of life too.

What did Jesus mean by good news to the poor?  What would Jesus say to this beggar?

Beggar