“He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…”
Isaiah 61:2 (NLT)
As you look around at your community and the world at large what would you say are some of the biggest social problems that you see and hear about? It may be different for you, but my experience has highlighted three things: child exploitation and abuse, domestic violence, and racial prejudice. These are some of the things that tear down society. While we might acknowledge them in passing, because of the difficult and complex nature of these sins, we may not dwell on them or really talk about them. Yet as Christian activists we can’t ignore the plight of our neighbours in its broadest sense in the midst of their struggle, pain and suffering.
Jesus offers a message of hope and change to both the abused and the abuser. The Saviour extends a helping and compassionate hand to the victim and perpetrator. Our Redeemer offers the promise of a new mind and heart to the oppressed and the oppressor. Jesus the Liberator said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19).
So what are we to do? Efram Smith tells us through the title of his book, “JUMP: Into a Life of Further and Higher.” Using the Civil Rights Movement in the USA of the 50s and 60s as the backdrop he states that we have choices to make in how we respond to the ills that surround and affect us while polluting society. He encourages us make a difference where we are today.
As part of God’s Kingdom on Earth, Smith reminds us, “My entire self should be rooted in my identity in Christ. This was an important jump for me. My identity is not shaped by the majority culture; it’s shaped by God. We see this in 1 John 3:1, ‘See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.’”
Because of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our minds and hearts we fight indifference, abuse and ignorance. We do not shirk our responsibility but confront evil in our individual ways and collectively as groups, churches, etc. Quoting Smith again, “Jesus is the author of the blueprint for how to deal with enemies, a plan that carries the purpose of the transformation of the enemy. The weapon for dealing with enemies is love.”
Therefore, let us make the ancient words of the prophet Isaiah quoted in Luke be a reality today in our lives, communities, churches and the world. Be an activist who challenges exploitation bringing generosity; instead of domestic violence work for domestic bliss; and rather that prejudice, a spirit of inclusion. Then like Jesus, may it also be said of us, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day.” (Luke 4:21).”
Loving Father, thank you for calling us to be a part of the greatest work on Earth. Help us to trust and obey. We pray in Jesus’ name.
Study by David Gibbs
Worldwide Church of God Birmingham
All Saints Church
BIRMINGHAM B23 7QB
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