good news to the poor

It was a joy to meet Kelly yesterday at the Ekklesia Project conference, and I was impressed by the discussions she led. It was refreshing to not be the only one speaking of poverty as a part of following Jesus. Of course there were still plenty of objections and fears. But most people seemed willing to seriously consider and engage "blessed are you poor... woe to you who are rich," rather than reject it outright or interpret it away.

In the afternoon discussion I tried to highlight the importance of gospel poverty as a witness and source of hope for the poor. Not just for our own spiritual good, but also for the sake of others who are struggling under heavy loads that they did not voluntarily take on. Like Jesus, a poor man among the poor, saying to them: "You are not far from the kingdom of God. Right now, where you are, in your poverty and affliction, you are much closer to the perfect life with God than those who are rich and powerful and at ease. Just follow me."

Then, this morning, I read these verses in Psalm 69:

I am afflicted and in pain;
let thy salvation, O God, set me on high!
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.

Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

For the LORD hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
I looked up the Hebrew word translated "oppressed" here and found it also can be translated poor, needy, lowly, humble, afflicted, meek. Jesus' deliverance, a poor man being rescued by God--this is "good news to the poor." And this good news is preached again and again when we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, facing poverty and affliction like he did, and God rescues us as well.

Let the poor, the needy, the lowly see it and be glad.