Since returning from India, I have often meditated on the exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist. When asked if He were the Messiah, Jesus said, “Tell him what you see – the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the poor has the gospel preached to them.
He did not say that the poor was fed or clothed, or sheltered. The remedy for the poor was the gospel. Two questions: How does the gospel remedy the poor and who are the poor?
The gospel, the good news about Jesus is much more than the first four chapters of the New Testament, more than an invitation given at the end of service while singing “Just as I Am”. The gospel is the good news that because of Jesus, sin is no longer your master, depression has to flee, and oppression has ceased. It is the good news that healing for your bodies, your heart, and your past is yours for the asking. The gospel is the good news that God is no longer angry with us and He sees us as holy and blameless. The Gospel is the good news you have been accepted into the beloved and there is therefore no guilt or condemnation. The good news is that you have been set free from the tyranny and the destruction of the enemy and adopted into a family. The good news is that we have a Savior and His name is Jesus.
Who is the poor? The word poor is used 38 times in the New Testament and 26 of those times its used to describe people who are destitute of resources. I believe the gospel is a remedy to systemic poverty. My dear friend, Lindy goes into the most destitute areas of Africa and start churches. She has seen areas where everyone walked to church when it first began, but a few years later a few will have cars, many will have scooters. The preaching of the gospel is elevating them out of poverty.
My favorite definition for the poor is “lacking anything”. In that sense we are ALL poor. Which means we all need a Savior. We all need to hear the Gospel. So today, when someone comes to you with a problem, preach the gospel, because the good news is we have the mind of Christ (wisdom). Someone needs resources, preach the gospel because the good news is He will supply all of our needs. Someone is sick, preach and demonstrate the gospel, because the good news is by His stripes we are healed.
Go out today and preach the gospel, elevating people out of whatever lack they find themselves in.
““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