Someone took the time and trouble to count up the verses that deal with the foreigners, the marginalized, the widow, orphans and found that there were 2,000 passages in the Bible that promised them relief. To be fair; this hasn’t been independently verified by myself as I have neither the attention span nor time to attempt such a feat. That being said, this theme is literally spun all through the Bible.
This morning my pastor was reading a story in Luke that I had heard dozens of times and there it was again. Remember the story of Zacheus the wee little man? As Jesus was taking heat for inviting Himself over for dinner, Zacheus proclaimed that he was selling half of everything he owned and giving it to whom? The poor.
A little bit Later in Luke 16 is where we get the big ticket Bible quotes like “you can’t serve two masters” or “where much is given much is required”. Both of those are statements directed to us about how we deal with our money here on earth. Jesus makes this provocative statement in that passage about using our worldly wealth “that we might gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings”. (Luke 16:9 ) And what do you suppose we could be doing with our time and money here that would find people welcoming us to eternal dwellings? I suggest in the larger context it’s about serving the poor.
It sounds great and is more or less applicable to apply a passage like “where much is given much is required” to talk about being faithful in order to get a job promotion. However, that is not the context of what Jesus was saying and as any good arm chair theologian knows, context is everything. Jesus said where much is given, much is required and He was talking about money.
I’ve thought about that a lot this week as our Nation has been going through the political process and I wondered what Jesus would say. (Did He wear a bracelet that said WWID?) How would He respond to the moral decay? What would He say about our Government and the state that it’s in? What would He be blogging about Joe the Plumber if He were here today?
The answer is probably not. In all 4 gospels there is no mention of Jesus crying out against the liberal theater actors who were tearing down the moral fiber of their society. He made no mention of rising up against the oppressive Roman Government. He didn’t cry out against Caesar, Pilate or Herod responding to their policies that harmed the people and kept them in bondage.
It’s almost as if Jesus felt that the best defense was a great offense.
His opening salvo as Messiah (also in Luke) Jesus announced Himself as coming to preach the gospel to the poor, set at liberty the captives and bring sight to the blind. His advancement on the Kingdom of darkness weren’t verbal arguments against the Roman government (a good lesson for me) or the liberal media or the sinful Greek theatrical actors. To borrow a line from Donald Miller, that would be shooting at the hostages.
His attacks were at the actual enemy that held those very people hostage. By relieving and healing the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the time, he was launching a ground war. The weapons of His warfare were not carnal, but were in fact mighty. He was attacking the system of poverty, oppression and spiritual blindness by setting people free from them. He attacked the system, but not the purveyors of it.
Hunger, poverty, and oppression are systemic tools of the enemy. Satan isn’t out there putting the screws to each and every single starving child. Satan is not omnipotent, and quite honestly probably doesn’t even know my name. He is just a fallen angel.
There is no record of Him getting extra power or for that matter having extra powers than any other angel. In fact there is no record of His appearance changing. Quite possibly He looks no different than he did as an angel. Not being omnipotent or omniscient he can work most effectively through systems that we ourselves buy into as a world, as a culture as a society. He is NOT Jesus equal. At the end of Revelation it is recorded that only one angel will be needed to chain him up.
And so it is that we have launched a ground war through Conduit. We are assaulting the kingdom of darkness. The systems of this world would have it that our children in Haiti starve and we are attacking that with our friends at Restoration Ministries in Jacmel, Haiti. . The systems of society would have it that addicts and homeless should be out of sight and out of mind and we have mounted an attack against that through Place of Hope right here in Columbia, TN.
We are not shooting at the hostages, but rather saving them. Conduit is a part of the supply chain as well as a source for ground troops in this. Every dime that you have given, every minute you have served, every second you have prayed is part of the greater battle. And slowly but surely, the Kingdom of God is advancing. Not through our slick marketing campaigns and nice worship centers but through our actions.
Many of you have given so freely and for that I am grateful. I write this with urgency because there is still so much need; specifically in Haiti. I still do not take a dime of the money you have given. I give to it myself. I write this not as someone better than you, but as someone just like you. We stand on level ground before the cross and I would ask that those of you who have not joined this battle to prayerfully consider doing so.
$15 will feed a child in Haiti for a month. Would you consider doing that? You can go to http://www.conduitmission.org and click on the “donate now” button. I don’t have any fancy love gift and can’t offer to put your name on a brick I can’t reward you at all and that’s great news for you because God can and God will. He’s much smarter and richer than me and He’s got your back. (That whole passage about God providing seed for the sower? Also talking about giving to the poor. Read 2 Cor. 8 and 9 in their entirety)
As for tomorrow: There is such an amazing picture of this in the story of Israel and the Exodus. It is a story of deliverance and of salvation for a people from a system of toil, hardship and captivity. If you get a chance, read the first couple of chapters of Exodus. We’re going back to our fundamentals at Conduit; searching deep within the scriptures, finding Jesus there, and responding to Him.
See you at 7:30pm in Building 8 at the Factory, home of The Journey.