Offer Both Salvation and Sustenance

By Bill Hybels
Pastor Raushenbush was right in predicting that he and I would feel essentially the same way on the Sandwich/Jesus issue. Stretching the metaphor a bit, I would add that the acid test for whether a person has indeed eaten the “Jesus” sandwich is whether or not he or she is then motivated to spend every day until the dying day offering both sandwiches—salvation and sustenance—to as many hungry people as possible.

One of the great joys of my life has been to pastor a church that is unusually intentional about reaching people far from God. For 32 years now, I have had a front-row seat to observe how lost people get found and how found people get grown up. In my experience, the sandwich question is irrefutably answered as the Holy Spirit does his sanctifying work in the heart and mind of a freshly-redeemed person. What I mean by that is in virtually every case, when I see a life get transformed by the atoning work of Christ, it is not long before that new believer sees the plight of the poor.
Usually within months of a person’s salvation experience, there is both a sincere desire to pass on the message of Christ to any and all, and an equally intense desire to do whatever is necessary in the name of Christ to eradicate injustice, relieve oppression, and alleviate suffering of any kind. Selfless service of this sort isn’t normal according to human nature; purely and simply, the desires are born out of the work of the Holy Spirit.
My point is that if new Christ-followers were not misguided by those who force an either-or mindset to the sandwich question, I am quite sure that the Holy Spirit himself would lead them eventually to adopt a both-and approach.
In my teaching and leadership over the past several years, I have relied on two words to help keep our congregation at Willow Creek balanced on these issues: redeem and restore. I love how those two words fall phonetically, but more important, I love how they fall theologically. There’s nothing better than to see new believers around our church begin to weave those words into their everyday vocabulary; better still is when they begin to live them out in their everyday lives.

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posted September 12, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Have either of you been Hungry? For food or Truth? Has their ever been a crisis over the dipsy dumpster/spiritual food? Before I converted their was no pangs of hunger either physical of spiritual, none physical because I provided sustenace for myself, and I stress myself, because being exposed to the WPWE [white Prostestant work ethic] I felt no compulsion to share without some return of invest. An atta boy or a heart felt thanks or some other praise. Like Christ said; to be seen of men. After my recieving Christ, I understood my spiritual condition I was a deathcamp internee whose huinger for the Truth would have killed him if not administered judiciously. And like them the portions increased has my ability to digest them increased. about the dipsy dumpster, what good is a full belly in hell? Meats for the belly and the belly for meats, the body is God’s and to abuse it spiritually or physically is death. After recieving Christ I experienced another surprise, I became Spiritually destitute, not unlike St. Theresa of Calcutta. But in all that time the sustenace for my body was met By Jesus although I had estranged myself he remained faithful. and that is the Grace of Salvation once the Spirit is recieved God will fulfill in us all our needs AS HE SEES FIT. And after all isn’t that your beef with him, you try to defend your priority as opposed to your counter part, Who is more influncial the captain that orders flank speed or the grunts that make it happen, without the grunts the captain can ask for water and if it don’t rain he goes thirsty. You guys are grunts working under different focus, but you need to minister to both to validate both as the ministry given to truth.

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posted September 13, 2007 at 12:51 pm

i think i have trouble understanding why one cant do both. why choose between them? as human beings is it too much for us to tell our loved ones about what makes us so joyful and help our less well off neighbors at the same time? should one lead to the other in a never ending circle?

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posted September 14, 2007 at 6:19 am

I live in a City that was sited in February’s issue of McCleans Magz as the worst in Canada. And I live in the worst area of that city. What has fryed my noodle, since we moved here, is the number of Christian Ministries that enable the community to stay stuck in a cycle of addiction and abuse. What do I mean by that? Here is what I have observed…..
Let us pretend I have a serious addiction. In the morning I can have a full breakfast at one of the soup kitchens, it also has a hostel available to me, if I am a man. The booze can be purchased on the corner, so it is not too difficult to get my spirits for the day. Or their are two dealers not too far away from here….sometimes they will even come into the soup kitchen to sell me what I need. Or meet me on the stoop out front while I smoke my cig. and talk on my cell phone.
Lunch, I have two choices…all within a block of the bed I just slepted in for free. And supper, another place — just across the back alley. Now this place is special, more of a family atmosphere….as it feeds women and children too. (why would a Christian organization place food for women and children in such a hostel enviroment? this is a new addition to my neighborhood) But only if I am a man can I get a bed there for the night. Clothing is never a problem as there are two clothing give aways where I get my meals…and a needle exchange too. If I cannot find what I want at one, then perhaps the other. My time at the hostel has just expired so I need a more perminant accomodation. There is always a slum lord that will give me a room….welfare will pay for it. I lost my other room for fighting and drinking and had to leave my stuff behind — but no problem, free stuff from the furniture give away…again within a block of the soup kitchens (four within a city block).
My husband and I have been living here for eight years now. We are middle class, very oridinary people. Our passion is for God and we belive, as the ministries that are set up here do, that people with addictions need God. But we believe that God called us to relationship with him and to each other. And without the power of God, his mercy and wisdom and most of all love, we are useless. How do people get love through stuff? We are all aware of people whom have been raised in an atmosphere of weatlh, who could have anything they wanted but had no love. What happens to these people. Are not those people usually selfserving and disrespectful and distructive.
I have pondered how many of the people in my neighbohood have been over to the homes of the folks who volunteer or work in the soup kitchens. Or the person who drops off their estate sale left overs…if they would ever take one of the men who will use their discarded stuff, in for a cup of coffee. I expect that the police would be called in short order if one of them was even seen around their home.
And all in the name of Jesus…………
My advice….keep your stuff and give them, and me ** you. I would love it if you would take ownership of a piece of property here, move in and be my neighbor. We could pray and love and engage in these people and their lives. Together, in love we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leapor and set the captive free. As one with Christ, all things are possible.

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Lillian Baylock

posted September 14, 2007 at 9:55 am

Jesus said;
Matthew 25:
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

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posted September 14, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Jesus did both and much, much more. He saved souls, feed the poor, healed the sick and…..!
In my humble opinion, we should do like wise and allow Jesus to be our example and our guide.
He did not send the multitude away hungry, he made sure he feed them after he taught them(fish and bread). If we can remember in all that you do, do it as unto the Lord. Our job is not to worry about what happened after you did what you were instructed to do by God. Be it paying your tithes to helping out at the homeless shelter. That’s God’s job, to deal with the reciever. And if we can remember to be careful how we entertain strangers for we may be entertaining an Angel(s), that will go a long way too. Whether it’s the guy holding the sign on the corner asking for assistance to entertaining some one with the stature of the Pope.
I realize that I may be biased, both my calling and profession is that of a humble Social Worker. Daily, I try to do both evangelize/witness/share God’s words to the outer man to win souls for Christ and to glorify God. I make it a point to literally feed not only the inner man’s body but his mind and spirit as well, where ever I go to whom ever I can.
The two for me appear to be hand in hand, intertwined like that of a braided rope. They are synonymous, as it pertains to people I encounter on my journey. I can’t differentiate one from the other. Case in point, when a mother comes to me asking for food to feed her children figuratively, at that particular time she can’t full her children’s stomachs up off the Holy Bible. Instead she wants physical food to eat not spiritual enlightenment. After she’s filled the body, I can then introduce spiritual food to her in the form of the Holy Bible to take with her for herself and her children to eat thereafter. We can’t be so Holy minded that we are not of any earthy good.
Yes I say evangelize/witness/share the good news of Christ! Yes! Win souls for the Kingdom! Yes!!! Definitely so! And feed the poor and hungry along the way too!!! They belong to Jesus too, and he said that they would always be among us and to feed the poor, the hungry, the orphan and windowed…
Please allow me to justify my beliefs with just a few scriptures and feel free to correct me if I have misinterpreted “His Word”. Isaiah 58:7-11, 61:1-2. In Matthew 9:35-38, I don’t think Jesus only felt great pity for the crowds that came just because there were not enough evangelist/disciples/teachers. Further, in Matthew chapter 10:5-8, Jesus gives specific instructions for the disciples to follow. Are we not to do the same as they did and even more today? Lastly, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, just to name a few are some of the reasons why I believe we should do both.
Peace and blessings to all who read, hear and do the work of the Lord. I ask this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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posted September 15, 2007 at 1:19 am

Good points. How about this teaching from Jesus…..what do you think he was trying to say here?
30So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'[c]”
32Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34″Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
Lots of good stuff here….but the conclusion is what I want to point out…..
66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67″You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Now I am sounding like a stuck record but I believe it is worth stating one more time. Stuff is not the ansewer however God is….. This family serves the Lord and our neighbor. We have and will continue to put our resources where our mouth is. Rides and food and coffee and prayers, and time and love. We have good friends here, and good neighbors. However we, have to side step alot of discusting stuff and most sadly supported by affluent, middle class Church going, God fearing Christians. Mercy…they look just like me.

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posted September 15, 2007 at 7:05 am

Kate: When you learned how to stand as a child could you run the 100 dash in 12 seconds? These ministry’s that forsake not the hungry are following the inspiration of the Spirit of God and the dispersion you cast upon them by you reprehensible. How do you know how many lives where saved just by the Spirit’s presence in the neighborhood you live [?]or rather interned in. Being a prisoner yourself and looking for a way out contact a ministry and example to the other thankless poor to be as interested in each other as these in that ministry. Yes, being poor does not infer being gracious or kind or loving, as your letter revealed. A poor murderer is still a murderer no license should be given to evil because of social status which is a big problem with the rich and affluent. comment when that subject comes up.

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posted September 16, 2007 at 5:34 pm

I was out this morning prayer walking and heard a cry from a women in distress. I turned on my heals and headed for the sound. As I was turning a corner I ran smack into another women, bible in hand — prayer walking too. Amazing grace. We had never met each other before, excited to meet we talked and prayed and praised God. Her call is to the Gang members that dominate the streets after hours. She does this by living in the neighborhood, engaging in relationship (she is a foster parent too) and like me she expects miricles and wonders to point the way to God.
I have met a few others just like her, people who live in the communitty they pray for. Our hearts is for the power of God to transform lives. We agreed that together we will engage our God, love our God and believe that He has a plan for the our neighborhood which includes the leaders of the soup kitchens, the people who frequent them, and the neighbors that have to put up with the fall out.
Together we believed in God’s destiny for the people who live next door and across that street. One life at a time, God’s will be done.
We do not have to live in a foreign country to have the experiance of a missionary. We can emerse ourselves in a life that will transform others today. I believe that God’s children should put their time, prayer and lives on the front line (which in my opinion is the safest place to be). And let that be our tutor. A program will not save the poor, money will not save the poor, food will not save the poor….God through us, that is what will bring food, healing, peace to the poor. Where else will we go for Christ has the Words for life. How is that reprehensible?

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posted September 17, 2007 at 9:30 pm

“That said, framing the debate as “Jesus vs. Sandwich” does raise the question of the primary message of Christianity. Was Jesus’ mission on earth to save individual souls for a future eternal life in heaven or to redeem and transform human lives here and now?”
Jesus seemed to preach that it was something to look forward to this idea He was preaching. His preaching transformed lives by offering people a “future” in heaven. In fact He said that “the world” would hate His followers the way it hated Him first. So much for “heaven on earth.”
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
Jesus to His secular/pagan interogator Pilate.
Jesus fed thousands of people in a stunning show of a miracle (though the picnickers propably were unaware of it) and was left with just a few followers at the Cross.
How many well fed high school and college students (public schools) are becoming followers of Christ Jesus? Only the unmarried and pregnant ones probably.
Many are becoming secular-humanist, socialist-hedonists.
Jesus preached “the Gospel.” The Good News that the kingdom of God was at hand. Obviously He didn’t mean that all of the streets in Palestine were going to turn into gold and precious jewels. Heaven is something that awaits the faithful.
The “Social Gospel” preached by liberals, is just another way of selling Marxist communism. And we all know how far from Christ that is. And not to mention . . . the Social Gospel of actually preaching and teaching about Jesus “in society” is opposed by every leftist progressive liberal with life still in their bodies and those that have died.
Time to wake up people (Christian people).
Posted by: Donny | September 17, 2007 9:07 PM
Didn’t Jesus also say to His disciples that “the poor” you (they/we) will have always but that He wouldn’t be around on earth for long? He preached Himself as if that was even more important. Did he not?
Didn’t He also say that He was going to prepare a place for us in heaven?
“Come and go with me to my Father’s house, come and go with me to my Father’s house. It’s a big, big house, with lots and lots of rooms, with a big, big table, with lots and lots of food, a big, big house . . . it’s my Father’s house.”
But Yes, YES and YES . . . we should feed and clothe and care for the poor in the world today. Jesus said He’s one of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jesus said a lot.
Posted by: Donny | September 17, 2007 9:15 PM

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posted September 18, 2007 at 4:24 pm

In deed, He did say alot. So I will go and heal the sick, raise the dead, clense the leapor, and set the captive free. Freely I have received, freely I will give. I believe, in fact I am convinced that God’s Kingdom has come, here on this earth as it is in heaven. It is by co-labouring that life, abundent life happens in me and through me and around me. Engaging in the lifestyle that Christ set out by accepting his yolk of humility, and picking up my cross daily is what will ensure that in my sphere of influence — tummys and souls are full.
Amen and Amen
As for me and my house hold, we will serve the Lord.

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June Schauer

posted September 24, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Surely we should make every effort to walk in the shoes of Jesus and also feed and care for our unfortunate
neighbors. I dont’t know who wrote it, but I read a short comment that stated:
I would nver tell anyone they were not a Christain. Anytime I have shared stories of Jesus or approached
anyone, I haven,t ever been dismissed. In fact I don’t recall any unwelcome experience,yet!

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Daniel Vojir

posted September 26, 2007 at 2:42 am

Thank you for the chance to comment to a debate that I am fierce about: e.g., the most horrendous example of evangelism was last Memorial Day – the opening of the Creation Museum. It cost $27 million, or, in terms some people might relate to: feeding 660,000 people in Sierra Leone (the world’s poorest nation). It not only caused other nations to laugh at us (because dinosaurs romp with Adam and Eve, people are caling it “Yabba Dabba Science”), but it’s ostentation tarnished the reputation of a religion that is supposed to feed the poor.
The best way to see if American Christinity adheres to its most basic ditum is to go o MinistryWatch (also known as “Wall Watchers”). There you will find the “prosperity theology” megachurches revenues compared to what they actually spend on something as trifling as community outreach. Of course, some of the more affluent “ministries” have refused to give over thei financial statements (Trinity Broadcasting Network is one and they pull in approximately $175 million per year.) T.D. Jakes is now on their “donor watch” list, recmmending to people NOT to donate because of possible fraud.
And a note to JS/Sugarland:
You obviously have not been in San Francisco’s Castro district. Considering the feelings many gays have about proselytizing Christians, trying to minister to them would be grossly hypocritical (and to me, insulting)!!

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