The marvelous book called the “Barbarian Conversion”, Richard Fletcher begins with a fascinating opening statement. “Who is Christianity for? It seems like an odd question. The plainest of answers is furnished by the so-called “great commission” which concludes St. Matthews Gospel: “go you therefore teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Ghost”. What could be more explicit than that? But it needs only a slight acquaintance with the history of the past 2000 years to show that Christians have not always heeded even the least ambiguous of instructions.”
The same can be said for acts of mercy. There are at least as many unambiguous commands of Jesus from His, “go and do likewise” in the story of the good Samaritan, and explicit commands of God that the pure religion is caring for widows and orphans but once again Christians have been known not to follow even the least ambiguous commands.
We are surrounded by people who tell us that mercy work in the mission field is “toxic”,unsustainable, the creator of dependency, corrupting. All the horrible examples, and all the awful ideas of what happens with mercy and ministering in the mission field, are probably true. There are debates about how mercy work out to be done. There are debates as to whether not that money would be better used in simple gospel proclamation. We even have people back here at home saying the money to take care of orphans or widows or feed the hungry would be better used back at home caring for poor confessional pastors chased out of congregations by mean-spirited members of the churches.
That brings another reaction from those members, that if the pastor they had would’ve stayed any longer, there wouldn’t be a church to raise the offerings to send to do mercy work in the first place. In fact I’ve heard some people say that the greatest act of mercy they’ve ever received was when the Pastor was asked to remove himself from his office.
It is interesting what the devil does with Mercy. It’s interesting what the devil does in the church politically. Partner churches overseas are accused of being corrupt taking our mercy money and using it for there own self-aggrandizement. RSO’s that raise money by claiming to do certain things like translating foreign languages and printing Lutheran material use that money for other things like building giant monuments to ego in the jungles of Africa. Somehow that’s not corrupt.
Project 24 has been having some real issues in the past couple of years and we are trying to deal with it in a conscientious and reliable way. I will chronicle the trials and tribulations of life in a fallen world and how mission, ministry and mercy are impacted by the world and the flesh and the devil.