When Helping Hurts- Notable Quotes: Chapter 1 by Steve Corbett/Brian Fikkert
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4: 18-19
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58: 9-10
Why was Israel sent into captivity? Many of us have a picture in our minds of the Israelites getting out of bed every morning and running off to the nearest shrine to worship idols. Indeed, numerous passages in the Old Testament indicate that idolatry was a problem in Israel. But these passages give a broader picture. Here [Isaiah 58:1-3, 5-10] Israel appears to be characterized by personal piety and the outward expressions of formal religion: worshiping, offering sacrifices, celebrating religious holidays, fasting, and praying. Translate this into the modern era, and we might say these folks were faithfully going to church each Sunday, attending midweek prayer meeting, going on the annual church retreat, and singing contemporary praise music. But God was disgusted with them, going so far as to call them ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’!
Personal piety and formal worship are essential to the Christian life, but they must lead to lives that ‘act justly and love mercy’ (Mic. 6:8)
Referring to Acts 4:34 “there were no needy persons among them”:
Luke is indicating [in Acts 4] that while Israel had failed to care for the poor and was sent into captivity, God’s people have been restored and are now embodying King Jesus and His kingdom, a kingdom in which there is no poverty (Rev. 21:1-4). Indeed, throughout the New Testament, care of the poor is a vital concern of the church (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 6:1-7; Gal. 2:1-10; 6:10; James 1:27). Perhaps no passage states it more succinctly than 1 John 3:16-18: ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.’
What is the task of the church? We are to embody Jesus Christ by doing what He did and what He continues to do through us: declare–using both words and deeds–that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords who is bringing in a kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. And the church needs to do this where Jesus did it, among the blind, the lame, the sick and outcast, and the poor.
God has sovereignly chosen to work in the world beginning with the weak who are on the ‘outside’, not the powerful who are on the ‘inside.’
…the early church’s engagement with suffering people was crucial to its explosive growth.