Christians are commanded in Luke 10:27 to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will truly be concerned with their welfare, both physically and spiritually. We will want to help our neighbors live more abundant, meaningful lives here on earth and to share with others how they can have eternal life. Because of God’s love for us, we desire to share that love.
Jesus made a startling statement in Matthew 25:34-40. He asserted that as we give food and drink to those in need, take in strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and visit those in prisons, we are doing these things to Him. Most of us would find it easy to do these things for Christ and for our own family, but Jesus says we must even do them for the lowliest of people, including those we don’t know or may even dislike. We are called to serve all men.
The emphasis of Christ’s Great Commission is on the spiritual needs of man. He commands us in Matthew 28:19, 20 to go into all nations and make disciples of all. We will do this in the name of Jesus and under the authority of God. This command is not given as an option. Jesus promises to be with us in His full authority and power both now and always. Thus we go forth boldly in Christ’s strength made available through the Holy Spirit and not in our own power.
We are told in II Timothy 2:2 to train faithful men to teach others who, in turn, will teach others. The focus of this verse is multiplication. As we pour our lives into faithful men, they will catch the vision for teaching others who, in turn, will help others.
However, when Jesus walked this earth He ministered to the whole person. He healed the sick as He preached and taught. When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to minister to others, He commanded them to heal the sick, being concerned for the physical needs of others, as well as preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Today if we are to follow Christ’s example, one person must do both as did the disciples. As Christians, we too must be concerned for the well-being of the whole man. This involves meeting both physical and spiritual needs, and training others to do so also.
Traditionally, a number of churches and missions have been committed to caring for people’s physical and spiritual needs, but generally people specialize in meeting either the spiritual needs (pastor, evangelist, etc.) or physical needs (doctor, engineer, etc.). For many, this leads to conflict of interest between urgent physical concerns and the spiritual needs of the people. The tendency is to become drawn in to exclusive areas of focus, away from wholistic ministry.