"Becoming Good News to the Poor" - Brad Hightower
This Lent I am meditating on Luke 4:18-19. In this passage Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue:
“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.”
This was the first passage Jesus taught from immediately after His forty days of prayer in the wilderness. After 40 days of prayer and fasting, this was the passage that Jesus focused on. I can picture that it is very likely that the Father spoke this calling into Jesus during His time of fasting and prayer. The time in the wilderness was a time of preparation for ministry.
Jesus is saying “the Father has put His Spirit on me and empowered me to proclaim good news to the poor and freedom to prisoners, sight to the blind and liberty to the oppressed.” In other words, “the Kingdom of God is about justice” (Romans 14:17).
Do I have enough faith to believe that the fruit of my ministry and the ministry of our church will one day be described as justice for the poor. Will people say of our church “they brought justice to the poor and freedom to the oppressed”? We are in the “just community building” business. What does that even look like?
I think it looks like the church in Acts 2 where people sold homes and gave the proceeds to the church. I think it looks like a community where no one had too much and no one had too little. I think it looks like Acts 4 where it describes the church as a place where “God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
That sounds impossible, idealistic, unreasonable, revolutionary.
That is why this year, we need to dig deep to build high.
That is why this year I seek progress and not perfection.
That is why this year, we need to walk by faith.
We need long term vision and short term wisdom.
One specific vision that I am praying into is the need for recovery or discipleship homes in Bellflower. Such an endeavor is often too large a project for one church. Staff is needed… and volunteers and organization. It really requires a multi-church effort. Such dreams can seem impossible. But it is Jesus’ agenda, so all things are possible.
California is suffering an urgent housing crisis. More housing is needed. In the midst of this crisis, how does the church lead? How do we come together?
We dream big dreams and we start building. That is my prayer this Lent—that we lean hard into Jesus’ agenda and become truly good news to the poor.
HOW TO PRAY:
Pray that God would show you tangible opportunities to become “good news” in Bellflower to those hurting in your neighborhood, place of work, and congregation.
Pray that God would inspire Bellflower congregations with innovative ideas to help address the affordable housing crisis in Southern California
Luke 4:18-19 “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.”
Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
About the Author: Brad Hightower is a Bellflower resident who attends Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also a Vineyard worship leader and church planter.