Goodies from the Church
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Many evangelists and Christians spread word of the 'Bread of Life' every time they get the chance, yet the Church is still accused by some of not sharing more tangible goodies.
With some Jamaicans displaying increasing expectations from Church and State to feed and clothe them, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Karl Johnson, has asserted that the role and function of the Church is underestimated.
"There is an overwhelming desire within the Church to do more," asserted Johnson. And I understand that there is overwhelming expectation of the Church to do more."
He suggested, however, that the multifaceted means through which church organisations operate to assist the poor and needy is vastly underestimated.
"I always take the opposite view of the perception that the Church is not doing enough, and qualify it by saying that, in a real sense, one never feels that they have done enough as there is always more to do," he said.
Johnson argued that the far-reaching effects of his and other religious bodies may best be measured by a withdrawal of their activities, although that should never be the case.
"If you want to see how much the Church is really doing just make them stop doing, because we who work in the Church know fully well that thousands come under daily reach of the Church through a variety of products ranging from economic, social, educational and family among other things."
According to Johnson, as a church leader, he is saddened by the accusations and allegations, as many who make them are targeted beneficiaries.
"I can understand the need but what gets me sad is that many of those making the accusations are beneficiaries of the Church's benevolence," he said.
Added Johnson: "For some, you can never do enough ... I just wish we could really do more, but jointly we are doing quite a bit."
core functions of the Church
Bible scholars have listed six core functions of the Church, one of which is to assist the poor and needy in tangible forms.
In referring to scriptures, the scholars cite the need to "encourage one another and build each up", as well as "spurring one another on towards love and good deed".
They described worship as the core function of the Church. This is intended to enhance the relationship with God.
Also, there is spiritual disciplines in different forms of worship as well as discipleship to teach others and fellowship to forge mutual relationship among Christians.
Then there is the troubling one that has generated much discussion in and out of church circles - that of service.
The scholars at Grace Communion International posit that: "A teacher is also a washer of feet, a person who illustrates the meaning of Christianity by doing what Jesus would do. Jesus took care of physical needs such as food and health."
"In a physical way, he gave his life for us. The early Church gave physical help, sharing their possessions with the needy, collecting offerings for the hungry," added the scholars.