Thursday, November 30, 2000

Read Luke 7:18-23

Signs of the Messiah

Is Jesus of Nazareth really the Messiah? This was the crucial question for John the Baptist. When asked this question directly, Jesus' reply was: Read the signs! Look at the evidence; what do you see? His words echo the quote from Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19, including, "the poor have good news preached to them." What were the poor hearing? They were hearing that they were not damned just because they were poor; there was hope for them. Indeed, there was more hope for them than there was for the rich!

In a culture where poverty was equated with sin, and wealth was equated with salvation, these words were liberation. They were radical! And they speak a word of judgment to us today. What is our attitude toward poor people? Toward our lifestyle? As a culture, as well as individuals, we seem to reflect these same first century attitudes. The sad thing is that we value ourselves by what we own (quantity and quality) instead of our relationship to God. Those who can put God above their possessions are the ones who will be saved. This was the hard lesson learned by the certain ruler in Luke 18:18-25. "He went away sad because he was very rich." Or perhaps we value ourselves by our moral or intellectual superiority. We demand that people be like us in some way beliefs, race, sexual orientation, class in order for us to value them. This is 21 st century Pharisee-ism.

Can we bridge the gap between poor and rich? Do we want to be saved from our myopia? The way to God lies in identification with the poor. Wesley said it is not enough to give aid to the poor; we ought to go to be with the poor. Being with them gives us a new perspective on life one that can see the good news that is happening. --SFG

Prayer: Lord, help me to see you. Amen.

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