Have you ever noticed that Jesus was just as comfortable touching lepers, healing the blind, and raising the dead as He was partying with tax collectors, discussing the finer points of the law with the rulers of the synagogue, connecting with people of other ethnicities and religions, and meeting with the wealthiest and most powerful people of His time?
Jesus had incredible range.
Whether you have high quality problems like stressing out over which private school to send your child to in order to make them the most competitive in applying to Harvard, or you have lower quality problems like trying to make enough money to feed your child tomorrow, Jesus is comfortable with you, understands where you are today, and has a plan to make today, tomorrow, and forever better for you each and every day.
You are on the salvation plan. Jesus is working to improve your circumstances right now.
There are challenges facing the world today ranging from basic sanitation, to the availability of clean water or breathable air, to the disparity of access to health care, education, quality food, sustainable employment, civil justice, a robust economy, technology, and more.
The question is, how can you possibly address everything that is facing you in your context today, let alone everything that is facing people the world over?
Jesus shows the way. Jesus walked the walk, talked the talk, and gives the example and the answer for anyone who is ready to accept it.
There are two parts to the solution Jesus demonstrated. Both necessary. Both revolutionary. One short term. The other long term.
The two pieces to the solution for any issue are service and changing the culture.
Jesus’ immediate response to suffering? Feed. Heal. Restore. Raise. Connect. Serve.
But was this Jesus’ long term solution? Jesus had a longer term goal.
When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, His immediate response was to calm the crowd and put a stop to her execution, but was that where He stopped? No. He made use of the opportunity to raise awareness to injustice in the broader culture,
“He who is without sin, let Him be the one to throw the first stone”
and then to convict the woman of her sin in such a way as to give her a chance and a platform on which to alter her choices moving forward,
“Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and don’t sin again.”
Jesus wants more influence than just the immediate. Jesus wants the eternal. Jesus wants freedom for all, victory for all, success for all, fulfillment, peace, joy, accomplishment, prosperity, abundance, blessings, health, well-being, and life for all.
Jesus does not want a single person to fall into disrepair, dysfunction, desperation, or disaster.
Every single person alive today is capable of receiving Jesus Christ, and discovering what life can be — Free. Joyful. Abundant.
Jesus wants to change the culture, your culture and everyone else’s, such that the hungry will be fed before they reach the point of lack, the naked will be clothed before the point of needing an emergency room from exposure to the elements, the sick will be cared for before the point of extreme measures, the lonely and imprisoned will be visited and encouraged before they are radicalized, and everyone will be welcomed into community with believers so that they can realize everything that Jesus has in store for them.
Jesus wants people, all people, to be connected with those who would support them in their pursuit of excellence, success, peace, joy, fulfillment, intimacy, relationship, and so much more.
And this change requires two things — service and changing the culture.
Ask yourself, how can you meet the basic needs of someone else today? How can you feed, heal, restore, raise, connect, and serve?
And then, in that moment where their immediate is cared for, how can you convert that momentary opportunity into a culture change?
As just one example, consider this — poverty is not the result of a lack of resources. Poverty is the result of a failed culture.
You cannot simply distribute wealth and expect poverty to be eradicated. Why not? Because the culture which drives poverty will redistribute your distribution and make it of no long term effect.
It’s like the old proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
If you want to address poverty, hunger, disease, violence, terrorism, genocide, and more — you need to walk in the footsteps of the Savior and create the opportunity for change by meeting the immediate need through service. Then, and only then, can you intentionally leverage the opportunity that service creates to effect a change in the culture that caused the issue in the first place so that it does not return.
I think maybe that proverb should read, “Give a person a fish and you get the opportunity to show them the value of fishing. Taking that opportunity and showing them how to fish, will feed them for a lifetime.”
It is a challenging thing to suggest that culture can change and that service is the key that opens the door to that change. This is the good news. This is the gospel. There are no unsolvable problems, only problems that need service and a cultural change.
It’s time, now more than ever, that believers stand together as the body of Christ to de-radicalize the world by feeding, healing, restoring, and raising the expectations of people in our contexts and around the world by building welcoming communities to connect and to serve immediate needs and change cultures at every opportunity.
It’s time that failed cultures came to light and were replaced with healthy cultures of abundance, health, prosperity, freedom, peace, and joy.
It’s time to realize the love of God and the simple answers He offers.
It’s time to open the world to the power to improve every circumstance and every expectation.
It’s time to discover the freedom and prosperity that comes with a culture aligned with God’s purposes that simply will not accept defeat.
It’s time to share the good news of salvation which is available to everyone, right here, right now, and forever in the person of Jesus Christ, the one and only God, who shows us the way.
Service and changing the culture. Both are necessary. Both are revolutionary. Both are the key to bringing victory where defeat reigns today.
It’s time for a change.
“Then John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to Him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Anointed One we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'” At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their various diseases, and He cast out evil spirits and restored sight to the blind. Then He told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard — the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who are not offended by me.'” – Luke 7 (NLT)