Ham Sandwiches

August 25, 2014

Millions of people around the globe right now, if asked, could recite the “Lord’s Prayer,” (“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” Matthew 6:9-13). It is sad that few actually believe “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”

Most Christian men and women like having a God in heaven. They enjoy knowing that they have a God in heaven who watches over them, who loves them, who hears their prayers and answers them – occasionally. And while they enjoy the peace of mind of having a God in heaven, and having His will done in heaven, very few desire to have His will done on earth. Yet, the Lord’s Prayer, so beloved and recited by so many, is that His Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Before His will can be done on earth, God’s will must be known. In the town in which I live and minister, Colorado Springs, Colorado there are many, many “Christian” organizations and churches. Many! (Colorado Springs is Mecca for Evangelical Christianity). I talk to people at least once a week who are either gearing up for, or returning from “mission work.” I always endeavor to ask, “Well, what did you teach the people in that country where you were doing mission work?” The usual reply is, “oh, we represented Christ to them. We showed them the love of God.” “Yes,” I’ll say, “but what did you teach them from God’s Word?” “Oh, we ran a waterline to their village, and fed them.” (translation – “made them a ham sandwich”).

One time a gentleman was in my favorite coffee establishment (no secret which one), and he was showing everyone photographs of the area in Indonesia where he had just returned from “mission work.” So, I asked him, “What did you teach them from God’s Word?” His response was, “I’m not a scripture guy,” but “they did this for the people, and did that for their village.” (translation – “made them a ham sandwich”). And people wonder why I have no hair. This individual wasn’t “a scripture guy,” and likely couldn’t quote me the books of the Bible in order, but he was returning from the “mission field.”

If people are not preaching and teaching the poor in these third world countries the Word of God, accurately, when they go out on the “mission field,” than what in the “h” are they doing there? What is the purpose of the “mission work?” The truth of the matter is that it is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that brings genuine deliverance to men and women. It is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that builds believing and confidence toward God. It is only the Word of God, rightly divided, that takes a man or woman from death unto life. It is only by the Word of God, rightly divided, that a man or woman receives spirit. NOT by good deeds and acts of charity!

The truth of the matter is that sincerity is no guarantee for truth! Now, I am not opposed to acts and works of charity and kindness. We have the Peace Corps for installing running water and making the ham sandwiches. But it is the Church’s job to win men and women to Christ and to preach and teach the Word! (Not make the ham sandwiches!) I learned many, many years ago that everybody is a “Christian” who is physically hungry if you make them a ham sandwich. They will line up in the street, and get on their knees and pray with you and proclaim their “Christianity” if they don’t have to go the common outhouse in their village any longer. “Jesus” will pour from their lips if they get to take a hot shower in their own bathroom with their own running water.

What about God’s Word? Where is the accurate knowledge of God’s Word being proclaimed in all this “mission” work? It is only the Word of God that makes known the Will of God, and those who proclaim to know Him, and have this supposed wonderful relationship with Him, yet have no knowledge of His Word accurately, the Word of God declares are liars. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:4 (To “keep” His commandments you have to first know them, accurately).

My sons and I went to see the last “Rambo” movie a while back. The “Christian” community was a buzz about it. The premise of the movie was – sincere missionaries go to third world country and are hunted, persecuted, and killed by ruthless regime. The hero, that would be John Rambo, is convinced by a beautiful woman to help save them. It was supposedly a movie with a message. Oh, it was a movie with a message alright. It had a real lesson if you had eyes to see and ears to hear. Let me elaborate dear reader, as I did for my sons: premise – sincere, but stubborn, unknowledgeable and ignorant people go to country where they weren’t invited, and endeavor to impose their religion on the indigenous people there and get their butts handed to them. Then equally sincere but obstinate beautiful woman plays on guilt of hero to risk his life to save her friends.

The senseless killing of missionaries happens all the time. The persecution and imprisonment of young people for preaching Christianity in places where they weren’t invited is constantly in the news. I firmly believe that God raises up men and women to proclaim His Word in the nation in which they are born and live, and/or are welcome! I am an American. I was born and raised in the United States. This is the nation to which I am called to preach and to teach His Word. If He gives me revelation to do otherwise, that’s a different matter. But as God’s ministers and His ambassadors, I can guarantee you from His Word that He has not called you to make anyone a ham sandwich. You are called to speak His Word, to proclaim it, and to expound it accurately, not install running water and make ham sandwiches. It would be great if God’s people supported the ministry of teaching men and women His Word accurately, as much as they support making people ham sandwiches.

The question I have is if these sincere people, who get their butts in a sling, are so right, where is the power of God? Where is God? Throughout the Word of God you see “mission” work. Men and women who were knowledgeable of not just scripture, but how to operate the spirit of God in their lives, who operated the various manifestations of the spirit (not gifts of the spirit), received revelation from God on where to go and to whom and what to speak, and God backed up their “mission” work with signs, miracles, and wonders. You never read where Philip, in Acts chapter 8, went down to Samaria and made them a ham sandwich or dug them a well. When the apostles returned from their “mission” work in the gospels, of speaking the Word of God, the impact was Jesus telling them that he “beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” I know at times men like Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul found themselves in a little bit of trouble for speaking God’s Word. Those were entirely different situations and circumstances.

I have also often wondered why all the mission work is always in these faraway places and not in our own neighborhoods. Could it be because so many in our own neighborhoods and society are no longer interested in “Christianity.” Perhaps because of how God has been represented, or rather misrepresented by Christian religion. Perhaps because of how the Word of God has been handled, or rather mishandled.

“Thy will be done on earth” means His Word must first be learned, for His Word makes known His will. Then, when God’s will is known, it must be carried out “on earth as it is in heaven.” Once you have learned the will of God, you are obligated to carry it out, you are then responsible. And ignorance is never bliss when knowledge is available, and willful ignorance is sin, as is willful disobedience.

It’s like when people talk about Jesus Christ being their personal “lord and savior.” Most enjoy having him as their savior, but very few want him as lord here upon earth. “Lord” means master. If he is master than we are servants to his will. Then when he says jump, we jump! We don’t ask how high, we just start jumping. When God’s Word says “I would that ye all spake with tongues” why don’t people do it? Oh I know, because the local preacher says it’s of the Devil, or the local psychologist says it’s a “condition,” or the neighbors will think your nuts. When the Word of God says the first tenth of our increase (at a minimum) is His (called tithing), why don’t people do it? Oh I know, because their accountant says it is foolish and fiscally unsound to do it, or the critic says “that was then, this is now,” or friends say, “hmmm, I wonder what they do with the money.” That’s what the critics and the preachers and the accountants and the psychologists and the neighbors and the friends say. That’s not what the Word says! People have read their mistrust of their own words and deeds, and the words and deeds of others into the Word of God. But when God’s Word speaks, as believers, we listen, we take heed, and we act, and we let others make the ham sandwiches!

If you would like to contact us or support the work of the Bible Study Group, our email address is fellowship@biblestudygroup.org (you can use that same email address to donate via PayPal, or contact us to provide you with a postal address).

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