This post is part 12 of a 12 part series about The Truth Project, an in-depth Christian Worldview experience led by Del Tackett and published by Focus on the Family.
In this final tour of The Truth Project, Dr. Del Tackett opens up the class with a reading in Matthew 22:33-40:
“And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”
Tackett aimed to tackle the second great commandment in the final tour of the study: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we learn what a neighbor looked like. The Bible recounts the parable in Luke 10:25-37 where Jesus tells of a Samaritan who cared for a wounded and injured man at great expense while other religious leaders failed to render aid. In this way, the Samaritan fulfilled the second commandment.
God is greatly concerned with the needs of the oppressed. One passage that demonstrates God’s interest in helping the hurting is “‘Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs.’” (Psalm 12:5). God is involved in the lives of those who need help.
“God is greatly concerned with the needs of the oppressed.”The Truth Project
Who are these needy people? Many needy people include:
- Left out
God’s Heart for the Needy Flows from His Nature
We understand that God cares for needy people – the question is why? Why are God’s attentions fixed upon those poor, orphans, widows, neglected, or more? Because it flows from his nature. Scripture recounts numerous places where we peek into God’s heart for the needy.
- “He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.” (1 Samuel 2:8)
- “he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (Job 5:11)
- “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:6)
- “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
- “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)
- “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;” (Luke 1:51-52)
God is concerned about the needy because it is in his nature to do so. He illustrated this principle most vividly through Christ in the washing of his disciples feet (John 13:1-17). Jesus, though fully God, humbled himself by performing the work of a slave. In this way, he showed us the humble nature of God who cares for the needy.
Why Be Involved?
Regarding whether Christians should get involved with other people’s lives, some have suggested we not do it. They may say, “why polish brass on the sinking Titanic?” But babies ripped from their mother’s wombs are not mere brass ornaments on a ship. And there are many arenas where we can engage the culture, not just concerning the sanctity of human life.
Christians have applied their faith in so many ways in the past. Tackett pointed to the class how Christians have made a tremendous impact in the greater world. He referenced How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin Schmidt. In this book, Schmidt recounted several examples of Christians living out their “Good Samaritan” faith. For instance, the ancient Roman pagans would often throw their children into the river, while the Christians would “fish” the unwanted children out of the water to save them. Secondly, John Pounds saw the destitute children on the streets and founded a school to care for and educate them in 18th century England. Throughout history, Christians have applied their faith to tremendous positive effect.
One of the main positive examples Tackett gave regarding a Christian’s involvement in public service was William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a British member of Parliament who became a Christian. He decided to stay in Parliament to work toward the abolition of the slave trade. He did so for decades. A full 46-years later, and only 3 days before his death, in 1833 the bill to abolish slavery in the British empire passed its second reading in the House of Commons. J. Douglas Holladay wrote about Wilberforce:
A full 46-years later, and only 3 days before his death, in 1833 the bill to abolish slavery in the British empire passed its second reading in the House of Commons.About William Wilberforce from The Truth Project
- His whole life was animated by a deeply held, personal faith in Jesus Christ.
- He had a deep sense of calling that grew into conviction that he was to exercise his spiritual purpose in the realms of spiritual purpose in the realms of secular responsibility.
- He was committed to the strategic importance of a band of like-minded friends devoted to working together in chosen ventures.
- He believed deeply in the power of ideas and moral beliefs to change culture through sustained public persuasion.
- He was willing to pay a steep cost for his courageous public stands and was persistent in pursuing his life task.
Application: What To Do?
We see how biblical Christianity animated Christians in the past. The vision to fulfill the second great commandment before a God who sees everything guided believers of yesteryear. It can do so again.
The divine imperative to love our neighbors as ourselves begs a practical, personal question: what should you do? Tackett provided a curious response: “I have no idea!” What he meant is he did not know exactly how each of us should fulfill our calling in life. Only God knows. But Tackett underscored there was work to do. And God can direct our steps to show us what to do (Proverbs 16:9).
Featured image by imdadul hussain on Unsplash.