Dealing with the whole person
Jesus gave us some clear guidelines for our work and he always emphasised the importance of meeting the needs of the whole person - not just people's spiritual needs. However, many churches ignore his guidance and concentrate only on spiritual needs
Read Luke 4:16-21
This takes place at the beginning of Jesus's ministry after a time in the wilderness. He visited the synagogue in his home town and was given the scroll of Isaiah to read from. He read from Isaiah 61:1-3.
- What is the significance of Jesus selecting these verses to read?
Discuss the five roles that Jesus said his coming was to fulfil.
- How many of these might involve a practical as well as a spiritual response?
Read Matthew 25:31-46
Here, Jesus is telling his disciples about the end times and how God will look at their lives.
- What are the five areas of service for them that Jesus highlights here?
- Are these all spiritual? What other kinds of needs are being met?
Read Luke 10:25-27
Here, Jesus expresses in just two sentences the challenge we should follow as Christians. He then goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan to show clearly how we are to put this into practice.
- How are we to love God?
- Are we to love God in just the spiritual sense?
- Is it possible to love our neighbours without meeting their physical, social and emotional needs?
The passages above highlight the challenge we have as Christians to meet the whole needs of people, not just to concentrate on their spiritual needs. Many times, Jesus emphasised the spiritual, physical, emotional and social needs that we are to meet in caring for our neighbours. Holistic development is the natural outworking of this.
Adapted from teaching by Dr Stan Rowland in Stuttgart, Germany, January 2002. Stan Rowland is the Director of Community Health Evangelism, which seeks to bring the gospel into development work.