May 17, 2010

The Whole Gospel

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today- May 17, 2010

“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:17-19

The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul preached it as salvation for all who believe, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:2-4).

But the good news of Jesus Christ is more than the salvation of our souls when we get to heaven—it is also freedom from bondage on earth. As followers of Jesus, we have the everyday opportunity to reach out to those displaced and ignored by society. Prisoners, the oppressed, the poor and those suffering from injustice who need our help and hope in Jesus’ name. We don’t just send the missionaries—we are also called to be His agents of grace and good deeds. The whole gospel of Jesus Christ is words and works for the deprived.

“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (2 Corinthians 9:13-14).

Who do you know by first name who is poor and needy? Who’s injustice has so gripped your heart that you won’t sleep well until they are set free? Do your prayers extend beyond the Lord saving their souls to how you can serve their needs in Jesus’ name? The Lord’s desire is mercy, justice and humility: all for His glory. Like serving marathon runners from a water station; with a smile and cup—you refresh them in their exhaustion.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

Digging a ditch for the poor—so they can have water—is digging a ditch for Jesus. Giving clothes to the naked—so they can stay warm and grow in dignity—is clothing Jesus. Inviting strangers into your home—so they can sleep and be fed—is inviting Jesus into your home. Caring for the sick and visiting prisoners is caring for and visiting Jesus. The whole gospel is concerned about salvation for heaven and also abundant life on earth.

Jesus prayed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:10-11).

Where can I serve the poor and needy—the sick and oppressed? Do I see them as Jesus?

Related Readings: Isaiah 58:6-11; Micah 6:8; Galatians 2:14; Philippians 1:27

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