This is my first entry on, “When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself” by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett
As the chapter title implies, this chapter attempts to answer the question, “Why did Jesus come to Earth?”
Fikkert and Corbett (C&B) try to answer the question, “Why did Jesus come to Earth?” starting with the Savior himself, quoting from Luke 4:17-21. Jesus was at the synagogue and read from Isaiah.
“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.”
Jesus goes on to say, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
As Christians, we see Jesus in this text asserting that he is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Jesus is saying, “This guy being talked about by the Old Testament prophets, he is me!” What does this guy who is prophesied about in the Old Testament do? He preaches good news to the poor, proclaims freedom for prisoners, makes the blind see, gives freedom to the oppressed, and declares that the Lord’s favor is upon his people. That’s what Jesus came to do.
Of course, we should ask the question, “What is good news to the poor?” Is it simply, “When you die, you won’t be poor anymore!” Or is there more to it than that? One allegation that has been levied against evangelical Christianity is that we only care about ‘happily ever after’ while ignoring the problems of the world in which we live. I recently finished reading a couple of books by Elijah Mohammad, founder of the Nation of Islam, and that is his exact complaint against Christianity. You don’t tell the oppressed that they just have to live with it because things will be better when we die. That’s just ok news. It’s not good news.
The good news is that Jesus came not only to save our souls, but to redeem all of creation. C&B make a good case for that proposition in this chapter, and I believe it is grounded in scripture and a Christian worldview. C&B ask the question, what would we think of Jesus if his encounter with the blind bigger in Luke 18:35-43 looked like this:
He (the beggar) called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus responded, “I am the fulfillment of all prophecy. I am the King of kings and Lord of lords. I have all the power in heaven and earth. I could heal you today of your blindness, but I only care about your soul. Believe in Me?”
It’s a pretty pathetic Savior who has all power but refuses to change anything. We believe in Jesus, not because of what he said he would do, but because of what he did. Since he did what he promised, we trust that he will do what he promised.
Finally, what is the church to do? As God’s people, we are to look like Jesus. Saving souls is a part of what the church does, but the gospel is comprehensive. We are to make a difference in this world as the hands and feet of our LORD. One of the things that the LORD did was to care for the poor, the oppressed, the prisoner, and the powerless. The church is to do likewise.