Last year I felt that the church needed to hear a message about financial giving. It is an uncomfortable message to give and an uncomfortable message to hear. For some reason most people really prefer not to talk about or even think about money – especially giving money.
I started my message with that statement – “No one likes to hear about tithing.” And when I said it someone in the congregation said, “Here we go.” His disdain was evident.
It was frustrating, I’ll admit, but I am in good company. When Jesus preached I imagine that most of the time many listening didn’t want to hear what he was saying. Where does today’s passage take place? What does Jesus claim as his ministry? How do you think the listeners felt? (You may want to read the rest of the story – Luke 4:22-30.)
Hearing (or reading) the words from Isaiah may bring a good feeling to you. That was the first reaction of those in attendance. Luke 4:22 says that the people spoke well of him and his “gracious words.” But when the full meaning of what Jesus was saying was revealed things got a bit dicey.
Those in attendance discovered that he wasn’t talking about them. Jesus was talking about all the other poor people in the world. He was talking about real prisoners and those who are spiritual prisoners. He was referring to the physically blind and the spiritually blind. And “the Lord’s favor” meant that even those who were regarded as undeserving and unworthy would be blessed.
This was shocking news to the crowd. It meant a change in the way they had always believed and thought. And now we have to accept these words as well.
The ministry of Jesus, the ministry of the church, and your ministry involves reaching out to the truly poor – both those in poverty and those who are struggling spiritually. Our ministry requires that we go out among those who are not like us at all, those we may normally avoid.
But we are to bring a message of good news from God. And part of bringing that release to the prisoners and the oppressed means that our political decisions, our vote, needs to be guided by what is best for all people, not just us. Our decisions on candidates and issues should not be influenced by what will benefit just our family and friends, those in society who are like us, but by what will benefit the poor, those imprisoned by social norms and behaviors, and those who feel oppressed.
DAILY CHALLENGE: How can your vote bring the Lord’s favor to others?