We are not saved by works alone. But the Kingdom is not built by faith alone. And it is not only built by Christians. Certainly God uses all for his purposes. Even Satan himself will serve God’s purpose, as will his instruments like the Pharaoh of Exodus; even vessels for destruction have their place in the Kingdom (Rom 9:22).
There are many men who have seen God, whose work will survive them. The mathematician who sees beautiful Truths of God but fails to worship Him will indeed pass away. His postulates will not. And there are many men who love God, but whose work is headed for destruction. The Christian who builds a corporation which oppresses the poor may reach heaven, but as one escaping a fire (1 Cor 3:15).
Truly, we are commanded to use “mammon of unrighteousness” to achieve God’s ends (Luke 16:9). I once heard a missionary speaking on medical missions, encouraging the use of secular grants over church donations, “Why use God’s money for what Satan will pay for?”And if we are to use the fuel of the Enemy, why not also his vehicles? Would not Christ also commend us for our shrewdness in that regard?
This is war. Our mission: to bring about the Kingdom in every way to every place. And if Poverty is one foe standing in our way, can we not coordinate our efforts with its fellow foes? If Poverty is entrenched in a non-Chrisitan region, call it Sodom, can we not support those fighting it, whatever their alignment? Even if this does nothing to fight another of our enemies, Faithlessness, does this not advance the cause of Christ nonetheless?
But it is doubtful to me that these Enemies of the Kingdom are not aligned and strengthened by one another. Let us return to Sodom. Its citizens have never seen compassion before, but the coming of a secular organization shows it to them. Will they not be drawn to know from whence that compassion comes? And will not their inability to answer (for few secular people have any idea why they do good) create an intense yearning for Truth? Would not this Secular compassion till the spiritual soil of Sodom, allowing missionaries to sow where they had not tilled?
Does not “every good gift…[come] down from the Father of lights” (Jam 1:17)? Does compassion have any other source but Christ? And if it is from Christ, will not even secular compassion “draw all men unto” to its source (Jhn 12:32)?
But even assuming we could know that Sodom would never repent, would fighting Poverty there be in vain? I think not. All of Christ’s charity failed to win converts, for by the end of his ministry, “all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50). I would think it blasphemy to call any work of God futile. I think His charity will live on eternally even if its objects do not. Of course, it is the greatest thing for both to live on. But the hard-hearted cannot sabotage the reward of the charitable. There is some element of the charity itself which must be eternal.
Is it wise for Christians to draw such a hard line in their giving? I think not. I think we shall be rebuked for a lack of shrewdness if we continue along our present course. When effective organizations who serve the poor better than Christian ones are ignored for their secularism, will we not be judged for the poor who went hungry because of our foolishness? We should aim to serve the poor by the best means presented to us.
We should remember that arrows into the heart of Poverty are no less lethal because they are shot by a secular bow. And if a secular bowman has the shot, should we deny him arrows?