In our culture there are so many voices competing for our attention and allegiance.  We are inundated with marketing and manipulation on a grand scale.  This menagerie of messages will distract, divert, and even deceive the listener.  Even those following Christ often fall prey to these perils unless they have allowed the Spirit to develop within them as active, authoritative, and intelligent discernment.  Then, how should we live in these chaotic and confusing times?  We will now focus on the sixth of seven essentials necessary for believers to prioritize in answering this question.

Here’s a review of the previous five essentials with post titles:

  1. a return to the supremacy, authority, and sufficiency of the Word of God: “Eat this Book”
  2. the necessity of intense intercessory and imprecatory Prayer: “Praying Always”
  3. development of mature, responsible, and accountable local Communities of Christ-followers: “One Another”
  4. each believer’s recognition and implementation of their personal Call and purpose from God: “For Such a Time as This”
  5. display of personal and corporate courage to walk a faith-fueled and intelligent Witness before the culture and the world: “Always Ready”

In this post we’ll explore the sixth essential, and next time, the seventh.

6. demonstration of an empathetic, skin-in-the-game Burden for the marginalized: “Extending

7. sincere manifestation of a praise-infused Unity among the people of God: “How Beautiful”

A burden for the marginalized and disenfranchised is defined as an active compassion for those in deep and desperate need.  How do we begin to recognize real needs and then move toward them with wisdom and Spirit-purpose?  We must start with a mindset that we will do more than just talk about it.  We must actually be alert to and act on providential connections and opportunities that come from the Spirit and connect us to a person or cause.  Active awareness deepens and sharpens our recognition of who to help and of how and when to engage wisely.

Scripture shows us at least four areas in which every believer must intentionally extend themselves and show their burden for consistently sharing tangible compassion and care.  We must be aware of the need in our local church, among the marginalized in their direct periphery, in international missions, and of persecuted believers wherever they may be.  Let’s look deeper at each of these….

Based on the entirety of the New Testament, it is imperative that every believer, in obedience to Christ, walk out their life of faith as an active and vital member of a 1 local assembly or community of believers.  Lack of interactive connection with other Christ-followers leaves one vulnerable to dangerous and destructive deficiencies in belief (theology) and behavior (character).  We were not designed to survive alone!  It is here that we determine how to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in order to work together in the ministry to others.  It is also a safe place to have conversations about the issues we face in our culture, and then to forge a pathway to engaging the world around us.  (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25)

2 The disenfranchised are all around us. These include the lonely, poor, homeless, refugees and immigrants, those being trafficked and abused, unborn who are being aborted, single parents, victims of natural disasters, victims of tragic life decisions, the disabled, elderly, and those who are challenged physically and mentally.  Because even this list is not exhaustive, it has a tendency to become exhausting and therefore easier to ignore.  After all, we can never solve all of these problems.  And, if we use only our human abilities, they will drain time, energy, and financial resources.  We can make strategic and significant differences in the lives of those God places in our periphery as the Spirit affirms opportunity.  Be someone’s champion.  (Proverbs 31:8-9)

The aperture of extending ourselves continues as we look globally to the 3 realm of missions.  Because of the distractions and self-focus in our culture, many of our local churches have gradually succumbed and submitted to a diminished focus of missionary relationships.  Few believers know a missionary by name, and even fewer know the needs of anyone who ministers in another country.  Our commission from Christ to go into all the world is a command.  More than a suggestion or an option, it is a sacred summons to participate with God in His redemptive and restorative purposes for the world. (III John 5-8)

It can be painful to faithfully pray for 4 those being persecuted for their faith.  The too common response is to choose ignorance.  Few are the Christians in western culture who can truthfully say they have ever been seriously persecuted for their faith.  It is doubtful that they actually know of someone who has been persecuted.  It is appalling and disgraceful that these same blessed believers never consider supporting the persecuted church worldwide. One persecuted believer who has spent decades being tortured in prison made the statement, “I suffer more from the complacency of the West than from persecution.”  What will we do?  What must we do? (Hebrews 13:3)

Remember that any help that you give to others – or to their cause – is the result of the gospel in your life, not the essence of it.  Reality affirms that you should not expect much closure in your efforts.  Mother Teresa said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.”  You can never do everything, but you are called to extend yourself and do something. And for the Christ-follower, doing nothing is never an option… especially in times as this.  (Isaish 58:12)