What does being a bearer of “good news” actually mean in our world today? (Warning: it may involve getting out of your comfort zone.)
“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.”
– Luke 4:18-21
Jesus’ message in Luke reminds us that as followers of Christ, we’re called to be bearers of good news throughout the world for those facing poverty, oppression and injustice.
In their book “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself”, authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert put it like this:
What is the task of the church? We are to embody Jesus Christ by doing what He did and what He continues to do through us: declare—using both words and deeds—that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords who is bringing in a kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. And the church needs to do this where Jesus did it, among the blind, the lame, the sick and outcast, and the poor.
Through reading scripture, we know that God is actively working to reconcile our broken world. Within this work of restoration, God’s heart for the lost, the broken, the orphan, the widow, the enslaved and those facing poverty and injustice is central. So too is the overturning of the systems and structures that create and perpetuate injustice and inequality.
We also see that much of the Bible is written in the context of very difficult places. Places of conflict, of communal and ethnic oppression, of imperial rule and of systems of patriarchy and oppression that meant the subjugation of many for the benefit of the few. Places that still exist today in our world.
Places where people face not only a lack of food or income, but oppression, religious persecution, discrimination, displacement, violence and exploitation. Places like Afghanistan, South Sudan and Somalia where the level of poverty and injustice are overlaid by conflict, a lack of security and in high levels of instability.
At Tearfund, we call these the ‘hard places’. Yet these are exactly the types of places where we are called to bring hope and be God’s salt and light.
We follow the example of Jesus, whose ministry went beyond the people and places seen as comfortable, popular or easy. Motivated by Jesus’ own presence and ministry in hard places, we work with courageous local Christian partners who are present with communities as they work towards hope and transformation in the face of incredible hardship.
As Australian Christians, we can also help to bring about God’s kingdom in these hard places in a number of ways. It could be by supporting our work financially, or with prayer, or advocating for issues like increased Australian Aid to our politicians here.
Together, let’s pray for the day when there is no more poverty, and where hunger and injustice, even in the most difficult places in the world, are a distant memory. Let’s live and work today for this dream that God has placed on our hearts.