Good News for the Poor
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4.18–19, NIV)How can we follow Jesus in proclaiming a message and embodying a lifestyle that is "good news to the poor?"
Remember that in the most important sense each of us is poor.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:8–9, NIV)Instead of resorting to guilt (Look at all the food you have and let me show you a picture of a hungry little boy from Jerusalem.), Paul leans heavily on the Gospel. Jesus, who in the most important sense was "rich," set those pleasures aside that he might come to us in our poverty to raise us up with him to enjoy the utmost pleasure, communion with the Triune God. So we can find compassion toward the poor when we remember our impoverished state were it not for Jesus.
Fellowship with those in need.
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only. (Philippians 4:14–15, NIV)When Paul says it was good of the Philippians to "share in his troubles," he uses the word koinonia; a word we normally translate fellowship, deep communion, or even, kinship. Many of the friendships we developed in Seminary were some of the most significant we have ever known. I am convinced the quality of our connection with those people was due to the fact that we were all struggling together toward the same goal. Likewise, the Philippians were so committed to partnering with Paul for the spread of the Gospel, that they were willing to enter into suffering with Paul, if it meant relief for him that enabled him to spread the Good News of Jesus around the Mediterranean world. While there is nothing wrong with many of the ways we share resources with the poor (relief funds like the Salvation Army, Compassion International, and Operation Christmas Child), Paul is calling us here to a kinship with the poor. He describes a willingness to give to the point of suffering, so that the poor's burden can be relieved, and the Gospel can be proclaimed.
Worship Jesus who always showed compassion to the poor.
If almsgiving funds a heavenly treasury, then the hand of the poor provides a privileged port of entry to the realm and, ultimately, the being of God. In short, there is a deeply sacramental character to the act. The poor become a necessary and indeed nonnegotiable point of access to the kingdom of God (Gary Anderson).Will you remember the poor?
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