3 grupos de personas por los que la Iglesia debe mostrar compasión

3 groups of people for whom the Church should show compassion

Mercy to the stranger

Although we recognize that the primary responsibility of Christians is to the poor who are part of the body of Christ, the Bible prohibits us from neglecting the poor who are outside the church. Galatians 6:10 says it clearly: “Let us do good to all, and especially to those of the family of faith.” What does it mean to “do well”? Commentators agree that this phrase refers to the ministry of works. The context is the sharing of burdens (6:2), as well as financial contributions to the support of Christian teachers (6:6). Here we see that Paul is basically saying: “The ministry of works must be directed first to our own community, but our duty is to include all people.” In other words, the ministry of mercy is not only an expression of the communion of the church, but also an expression of the mission of the church.

Several general theological principles require that the Christian extend the ministry of mercy toward unbelievers.

1. Neighbors

First, there is the biblical concept of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Some have said that Luke 10:25-37 only teaches that we are to help unbelievers in extraordinary emergency situations. But that interpretation ignores the context. Our Lord is trying to get Jews to not limit the ministry of works of love to their own racial/religious community. Why would Jesus choose the extreme example of a great enemy, a Samaritan, as the hero of the story? The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly defines our “neighbor” as any person, whoever they may be—relative, friend, acquaintance, stranger, or enemy—whose need we see. Not all men are my brothers, but all men are my neighbors.

2. Foreigners

Second, the Bible (especially the Old Testament) tells us to serve foreigners. Anyone who lived in the land of Israel and was not Jewish was considered a “foreigner” ( ger in Hebrew). The foreigner had to observe the basic religious laws of Israel, such as refraining from work on the Sabbath and refraining from worshiping idols (Lev 20:2; 16:29). But he was allowed to eat unclean meat (Deut 14:21), and he did not have to keep the Passover or be circumcised unless he wanted to (Exod 12:48). This is why he was not really part of the covenant community, since he lacked the sign of the covenant: circumcision. Many laws of the ministry of mercy prioritized the needs of other Israelites over those of foreigners.

But foreigners also received mercy. The temporary resident could glean the fields and vineyards during the harvest (Lev 19:10; 23:22). He is described as part of the defenseless, along with widows and orphans, and God himself would punish those who oppressed him (Ex 22:21; Lev 19:33-34). In other words, the foreigner, although not a member of the covenant community, was a beneficiary of the ministry of works of God's people.

What do the Old Testament rules about charity toward strangers say to us today? The New Testament appropriates them. On the day of judgment, Jesus will tell His servants: “…I was a stranger [xenos, a foreigner], and they gave me shelter” (Mt 25:35; 43). And the writer to the Hebrews exhorts readers to continue showing hospitality to strangers (Heb 13:2; see 1Ti 5:10).

3. Enemies

Finally, God extends His “common grace” even to His enemies. Common grace is a term theologians use to describe the general blessings that God grants to all people, regardless of their love for Him. For example, Matthew 5:45 tells us that God gives physical health and prosperity to everyone in the world. the earth: “He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and makes it rain on the just and the unjust.” How generous he is!

Right after, Jesus tells us to use this as a model for our works ministry. “If you love only those who love you, what reward will you receive?” (Mt 5:46). In the parallel passage, Jesus tells us to “do good” and “borrow” to the unrighteous, our enemies, because God offers mercy to both the good and the evil (Luke 6:32-36). Jonathan Edwards, writing about charity toward the poor, concludes:

We are particularly required to be kind to bad people; Thus we will follow the example of our heavenly Father, who causes His sun to rise on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. We are obliged, not only to be kind to those who are kind to us, but also to be kind to those who hate us and use us maliciously.

God's mercy and ours

A fourth reason for extending mercy to the world's needy is the pattern of God's saving mercy. His salvation comes to the unworthy, to those who do not expect it, to the enemies of God (Rom 3:9-18). Paul says that mercy was shown to him, as to the worst of sinners, to show the unlimited patience of Christ. If the New Testament says that ministry to physical needs is considered part of “mercy,” should we believe that our mercy must operate on a completely different principle than God's mercy? Should we not offer mercy to unbelievers and enemies?

We must remember that God offers His mercy to rebellious people to hold them accountable and restore them. So we must help with this in mind. But should we only offer it to our friends and relatives? That is not the pattern of God's mercy. The example of God's grace also indicates that we should not sit passively and wait for those in need to plead. Rather we must study, find and meet basic human needs. Did Christ sit in heaven and wait for us to beg him for mercy? No, Christ sought us and found us.

Excerpted from the book Mercy Ministries by Timothy Keller

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