Sunday, 2 February 2014

To the Needy - Luke 5:12-16, 27-32 Part Two

In another seemingly random encounter Jesus sees the tax collector. Another social outcast, a collaborator with the enemy Romans, a Sinner with a capital S, someone locked in an oppressive system. Another a person seen by society as good as dead.

Yet somehow Jesus has faith in this person, that he could turn around, that he could be friend. To this the person replies 'YES', bold font, large letters! He will have to leave a lot behind, his weasel dealing for one thing.  But that doesn't mean abandoning his friends! Having been welcomed by Jesus he now welcomes Jesus to his home for a party, which is a place full of dodgy characters.

Jesus seems to go with the flow - but we don't know the outcome. There is little evidence of church growth (or even moral reform) involving these others! That's an important lesson about Kingdom work: we seek God's Kingdom first and foremost, not simple addition or conformance to our church. We do the Kingdom work as Jesus did, but cannot ourselves guarantee church growth.  That work is for the Spirit in due course.

An example is our work through the Foodbank. We interact with people who are struggling, sometimes messed up with addictions and the like, people for which society has all but written off with no answers. Yet what do we do? Ring-fence them off, ensure we protect ourselves? Or do we stay on the lookout for Kingdom possibility, holding out for that 'YES' in God?

Life out there is messy. We do not have all the answers. As we get involved we will have disappointments and setbacks. Yet our call is to go anyway with Jesus' Kingdom 'YES'. To let Jesus' Kingdom fill our thinking and vision so that we never let ourselves believe that anyone is unreachable, too far gone, unable to be touched by the transforming power of God.

We must therefore go out, quite likely having to leave some of our own stuff behind (as Peter did, as the tax collector did), being ready for those seemingly arbitrary moments when we are faced with incredible need or hurt. Ready to pronounce the 'YES' of Jesus Christ over their lives.

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