As the Pastor of outreach at CBC, I’m often asked by those within and outside of the Church, what is “outreach”? The word itself doesn’t appear in scripture and yet its concept is evident throughout both the Old and the New Testaments – it is fundamental, it is essential, and we are command by Christ to do it. So what is it? It is the action motivated by love to reach out to those outside of our Christian community through prayer, Word, and deed.
Scripture distinctly calls us, in fact over 300 times, to reach out to those in need in our society, to relieve the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17), to defend the poor (Psalm 82:3), to feed the hungry (Isaiah 58:7), and to care for the sick and elderly (Ezekiel 34). I am humbled and delighted to say that Camelback Bible Church and its many members are currently doing this good work with the Hope Women’s Center, Camelback High School, and the Osborn Health and Rehab Center, as well as numerous other benevolent activities that I see people quietly go about in the spirit of the Good News. This is amazing kingdom work, the social Gospel and yet if we end there, well, we actually miss the mark, for we are called to yet, more. As we learn from Christ Himself, in the great commission (Matthew 28:19), we are called to actively “go out” and make disciples of all nations.
This social engagement is life-saving and, yes, biblical and so important for the Kingdom of God to carry forward. Yet we must always work with love, for if we remove the Gospel then we are just left with the social aspect. And what is wrong with that, you might ask, hungry people need to eat don’t they? Yes, absolutely, and we must satisfy their hunger and meet their need also keeping mind what Christ taught, “man does not live on bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Yes we must feed, clothe, and protect those in need, but all these essential actions are incomplete if we don’t reach out and share the Gospel, the good news about Christ’s love. After all, material things do have a shelf life. They will fail to permanently or entirely satisfy us. But Jesus, He is living water, the Bread of Life, John 6:35. He alone is the sustenance that truly satisfies, not simply for a day, a year, or even a lifetime but for an eternity. Can we really keep this to ourselves? No, in the work of the Kingdom the left hand of social engagement, must always accompany the right hand of the love, truth, and saving Grace of Jesus Christ. Anything less cannot be called Christianity.
So how is Christ calling you? Let us walk together.
To learn more about how you can participate in spreading the gospel through caring for those in need, visit Local Missions or contact Pastor Julian at email@example.com or 602-955-6370, ext. 109.