What does it mean to shine as a light of the world? How is justice part of that life proclamation? What does Jesus reveal about a light-shining life? Consider this excerpt from my new Flourishing Faith book Shine Your Light.
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“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,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Jesus, here, identifies himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies and teachings about God’s justice, compassion, and welcome. Quoting from Isaiah 58:6 and 61:1-2, Jesus launches his ministry by proclaiming this as his mission. Following directly on the heels of his baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus boldly declared that this is what he’s all about. According to Jesus, God’s concern for justice and his compassionate love for the vulnerable are essential to our understanding of the “good news.”
How often do you hear these kinds of ideas reflected in the way people normally talk about the gospel? Have we lost sight of a critical component of Jesus’ teaching and proclamation? Do we really understand how central these values of compassion and justice are to the good news? . . .
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23, emphasis added; see also Mark 1:14-15 and Luke 4:43).
For Jesus, the good news and the kingdom are interwoven and inseparable. In essence, Jesus’ teachings about his kingdom are his teachings about the gospel—about his rule as lord in our lives today, about the values of his reign, about his future victory and ultimate restoration of all things, about the life-transforming treasure of salvation that is worth everything to us.
The gospel of the kingdom isn’t only about God’s future reign over all things; it is also about Jesus’ reign of compassion, justice, liberty, grace, and restoration in our lives right now.
. . . How do you feel personally challenged or inspired by Jesus’ linking of the gospel and the kingdom? How might you need to reorient your perspective on the gospel—what it is, what it means to share it, what it means to live within it—in light of Jesus’ emphasis on this kingdom and its values?
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The gospel brings us true liberty! And a gospel-proclaiming life is a liberty proclaiming life. A life aligned with a kingdom of real freedom, of true justice, of ultimate compassion.
Thank you, Christ, for freeing us. Help us walk in your liberty-wielding way. Let us shine with your just and compassionate light!
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Join me on an exploration of evangelism, outreach, service, compassion, and justice in my new Bible study Shine Your Light. You can also download a free discussion guide for small group discussion here.