Death by Comfort

Keith Crosby 

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"  Mark 8:36 ESV

In China, hours before prisoners are executed, having received the death penalty for their crimes, they receive new clothes, new shoes, a nice meal, and even entertainment. Then they are marched outside and shot ( Similar customs are observed even in our country where condemned prisoners often receive a special “last meal.” The sad fact is, in China or anywhere else, these kindness are of little value of those facing execution. In a few moments, the meal is over and they cannot take their nice clothes with them into eternity. The moments of comfort are followed by an eternity without Christ, without hope, and without mercy.

K.P. Yohannan, founder and president of Gospel for Asia, a missions group that spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ in India and other places in the world, writes that “a bowl of rice is no substitute for the Holy Spirit (Revolution in World Missions, 107. Gospel for Asian Publishing).” He’s right of course. Sadly, increasingly in Christian circles, people are more and more emphasizing providing comfort to the lost by giving them food, clothing, and education in hopes of bribing them to consider the gospel. And more and more social action is taking priority over evangelism. Jesus commented that goods, wealth, or comfort are of little value in the scheme of eternity. The Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).” Giving people, who are under a death sentence, food, clothing, and education does them little good if they die without Christ. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36 ESV) We do better to feed them eternally for a life time with the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, than to feed them for a few hours, a day, or a week with food that perishes. A bowl of rice, a food card, or a tank of gas is no substitute for salvation and the indwelling, life changing power of the Holy Spirit.

For 10 years, a church in the Midwest with which I am familiar fed 700 homeless people and shut-ins every Christmas morning. Moreover, they delivered 190 meals to those who could not or would not come to the church for a sumptuous Christmas Dinner. Oddly enough, in 10 years they could not point to a single conversion from this outreach. Part of the problem was that they did not require those coming for dinner on Christmas Day to attend a worship service. Few ever heard the gospel. I attended a meeting once where a member of the outreach team indicated that a group he supported provided food and clothes for orphans without worrying so much about sharing the gospel with them. As I sat there in that meeting I thought of those prisoners in China who were given nice treats before facing the firing squad. I thought of all those homeless people coming for Christmas dinner without being fed the gospel. I thought of Jesus’ words: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:36 ESV?

Leading up to Easter, we having been showing the love of Christ by doing acts of real kindness for people so that we can invite them to church that they might hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m always impressed how committed the people and pastors of Sunrise are to sharing the gospel. I am thankful that the real act of kindness isn’t the grass we cut, the food we give away, or the money we give to those who have need but the sharing of the gospel, the inviting to Church, and including them in our Bible studies, small groups, and worship. Remember all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All people without Christ are as much under a death sentence as prisoners in China facing the firing squad. Acts of real kindness involve linking assistance to church attendance, having strings attached so that they must come and hear the gospel and must maybe get saved. Anything less isn’t kind at all. Do not be embarrassed to invite people you help to church. All the comfort and clothes and food and money you give them will profit them nothing if they die without Christ.

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