One of the biggest challenges for churches today is doing ministry that benefits the poor and the outcast and doesn’t just focus on those who attend. A consumeristic mindset has directed dollars to goods and services for members to consume, in many cases. Ministry to the poor and outcast can become little more than nearly empty gestures that sooth the conscience of attendees or practically non-existent as the needs of those who attend take precedence.
Before necessary changes can be made, we need to understand the priority of ministering to the poor. To gain that perspective, the first question we must ask is “How important was ministry to the poor and outcast to Jesus?” I’m glad you asked.
In Luke 4, Jesus comes into Nazareth after being tempted in the dessert. He enters his home synagogue and reads from Isaiah 60:1-2. Luke 4:16-21 tells it this way:
16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him, and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me[k] to proclaim release[l] to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.[m]
20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”
This is huge. Jesus is announcing He is the Messiah and He chooses to do so by quoting a scripture that talks about how the poor, the outcast, the physically disabled, and the oppressed will receive ministry. Jesus shows the importance of ministry to those mentioned in this scripture by using it to announce He’s the Messiah.
Then in Luke 7, John the Baptist is in prison and probably realizes his time on earth is coming to an end. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus one simple question. “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” Verses 21-23 record Jesus’ response:
21 At that time Jesus healed many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits, and he granted sight to many blind people. 22 He replied to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy[d] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, 23 and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”
So in Luke 4, Jesus announces He is the Messiah by telling us how about the ministry the poor and outcast will receive and then in Luke 7, He confirms He is the Messiah by telling us the poor and outcast are receiving ministry. So both announcing and confirming He is Messiah revolve around ministry the less fortunate.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gives His sole description of the judgment day. The entirety of the judgment described revolve around how we treated the poor and outcast. To those who enter the kingdom, Jesus says this:
35 “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 7 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’
40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
So Jesus’ announcement as Messiah, confirmation as Messiah, and sole description of the judgment day all revolve around how the poor and outcast receive ministry. If we truly considered this, how would it change the ministry we do today? How different would our church services, service projects, and mission work in general look? If you’re like me, you’re not totally sure but know it would most likely be much different than we have today. I know it’s a challenge leading my church into such ministry and I’m sure it’s a challenge for yours. That’s one of the reasons Mission Amarillo exists.
Mission Amarillo is an instrument the church can use to minister to the less fortunate in our community. We desire to be used by God’s church and His followers in the business community to have an impact, both short and long term, on those who find themselves in the midst of poverty and the painful consequences it can cause. We recognize the priority Jesus put on ministry to the poor and outcast and want to fulfill His calling to love them in His name.
If you, your church, business, or civic organization would like to know how you can plug into Mission Amarillo and make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, contact us at (806) 553-0408 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If what we do here doesn’t resonate with you, I’d encourage you to check out Mission 2540, Square Mile Industries, and several other non-profits in our area. There is opportunity to have long lasting impact on the less fortunate in our community. We just need to realize the priority Jesus places on such ministry and respond appropriately.