Both Soup and Salvation
Bible Reading: James 2:14-18
Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless. James 2:17
“Fixing houses?” Ethan frowned as he looked at the brochure for the family mission trip offered by his church. “How could a fixed-up house help someone learn to love Jesus? If I’m not knocking on doors to talk to people about Jesus from dawn till dusk, it’s not a mission trip.”
You know you’re supposed to love other people. That’s a big fact of your Christian faith. But how are you supposed to love?
Many Christians think the only part of people we should care about is their soul—the part that will live forever. Their only concern is to make sure people are on their way to heaven. God wants us to do more.
God made people. And he wants us to love the people of our world in all the ways they need love. In Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan, that kind helper didn’t preach to the wounded man. He patched up his wounds and took him to an inn to be cared for. Jesus didn’t just talk to people about spiritual bread to fill their spiritual hunger for God (see John 6:35). He also gave them physical bread for their physical hunger (see John 6:5-11).
Talk about this: Suppose you get a chance to work in a poor neighborhood, presenting a church service and then serving a hot meal to the homeless. Which activity is more loving—sharing “soup” (or whatever is on the dinner menu) or offering “salvation” (through the music and Bible message your group presents)?
Is that your final answer? Here’s the correct response: They are equally loving activities because each shows love by meeting genuine needs.
Food, clothing, and shelter alone don’t bring people into the kingdom of God. People also need to hear about Christ and trust him as Savior and Lord. But it’s tough for people to listen to a Bible lesson when their stomachs are growling with hunger or their bodies are aching from disease.
Taking care of physical needs often flings wide the door for us to meet spiritual needs. Besides that, the world is watching us. Non-Christians aren’t impressed by our passion to introduce people to Jesus if we neglect painfully obvious physical needs.
Every Christian has the privilege of showing love to the whole person—soul and body—because those parts are equally valuable to God!
TALK: How does meeting people’s practical needs help them see Jesus in us?
PRAY: Father in heaven, help us to see people as whole creatures—and give us strength to meet both physical and spiritual needs.
ACT: Think of a person in your life who needs God’s love. What kind, everyday things could you do for them to demonstrate God’s love?