Today throughout the nation and many other places in our world there are individuals, groups and churches who long and pray for revival. Yet, one of the themes which runs through the Bible in relation to renewal and revival seems [to me] to be almost completely ignored – meeting the needs of the poor.
The words of God, through the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, are self explanatory –
“Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
The promise is – “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal.” But when is “then” – the then so many pray and long for? According to God, through the prophet, it is when the people of God address the issues of oppression, poverty, homelessness and injustice – when we feed and clothe the poor, lift up the broken and bring freedom to the oppressed. This is true justice with which salvation, restoration and healing (revival if you like) is inextricably linked. Yet such an idea sits very uncomfortably with many evangelical Christians who rest on the “faith alone” principal – and some of whom despise any call for social justice in our world.
I believe the question we must ask is this – has God changed his mind on this principle? Are not the words of Jesus as relevant today as when they were spoken? –
“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Is it possible that as we provide food, clothing and material as well as spiritual aid for the poor that we are in fact meeting the need of Jesus? Is it not possible that as we turn from our selfishness, materialism, and self centeredness, the “wicked ways” of 2 Chronicles 7, that our “salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal.” ?