“Sometimes I wish we still were Quakers”, Christy Wimber said this morning at the Nordic Vineyard Summer Camp, which I am currently enjoying. Christy belonged to the Yorba Linda Friends Church where John Wimber and his family worshipped, and joined them as they got kicked out of it when they started to heal the sick and baptize converts. She has been a Vineyarder ever since and married one of John’s sons. But she still wishes she was a Quaker.
I can see why. Quakerism, with its teaching on radical discipleship, pacifism and social justice, never left John either. I’ve already collected some quotes from him about poverty and social justice, but now I got hold of a book here at the conference, The Way In is the Way On, where chapter three is totally devoted to John’s teaching about this issue. Here’s an excerpt:
I love to teach on social justice! It really is one of my passions. Justice always go hand in hand with true revival and renewal of the Spirit. Justice – setting things right for the poor and marginalized – is one of the primary purposes for God sending His Son into the world. He came in order to set things right. Great leaders in the history of the church have always understood the relationship between faith and justice. There has never been a movement of God started on fire that did not have a ministry to the poor.
[…] Carol and I believe that the main reason God’s hand has stayed on the Vineyard is because of our commitment to the poor and needy. Serving the poor isn’t an option for us. It is a life or death matter, and we have no choice here. […] His call to us is very clear and we’d best not ignore it! Jesus said:
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. – John 15:22
Also, the command Jesus has given us is simple and uncomplicated. Feed the poor. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Cast out demons. We don’t need to find the “worthy” poor. How judgmental! We do not have the responsibility of determining who is worthy and who is not. We are not the ones to determine worthiness, only need.
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because if this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brother and toward the poor and needy in your land. – Deuteronomy 15:11-12
[…] We need the poor to work out our own salvation, and the poor need us. A prophet said our name in the Vineyard is “Worship and Compassion”. I hope this is true. We do love the worship that the Lord has given us. We cherish God’s presence that accompanies the worship when His power to heal is right there with us.
The manifest presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our midst is connected, inseparably, to His mercy and compassion.
God will not be treated like a smorgasbord as though we can pick and choose what suits us best. That’s not the way that it works, it is impossible to have one without the other. We just wouldn’t survive the surgery.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, and the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow. – Psalms 146:7-9
The same Lord who gives sight to the blind and creates miracles through our hands is the very One who feeds the hungry through our hands, and watches over the immigrant. We must never ignore the poor and needy. We must never spend the outpouring of the Spirit on ourselves.