The gospel of Jesus really is good news for the poor – the economically poor, the emotionally poor, the oppressed, depressed and the suppressed, the addicted and the afflicted, those considered, by some, to be the last and the least. There is no shortage of “poor” to bring good news to!
When Jesus told stories of His Kingdom, he once spoke of a wonderful banquet. The ruler sends out invites to the great party but disappointingly few were responsive. The great event would be sparsely attended – too many “maybe” and “no” responses.
In a surprise twist for those listening Jesus says that the King then sent out his servants out into the lanes to invite the poor and disadvantaged. They go with a sense of urgency “to compel” people to come. – The response was such that the party is full and vibrant; a great success.
The poor are not just remembered or donated to, though that is a good thing, it is actually the poor who rescue the Kingdom Party! Only with the poor does the kingdom really start rocking!
I am not sure if we have yet grasped what it might look like to be “sent to the poor” as these servants were. What would it be like to experience the same sense of compulsion these servants did? Probably a little bit like the book of Acts, where a remarkable level of care, for those in need, went with, and was connected to, rapid growth. (See Acts 2 v 45 and Acts 4 v 32- 34) A genuine “sending” to the poor, with excellence, determination and consistency was closely connected to the rapid spread of the gospel. (See Acts 6 v 1-7)
What would our churches look like if we responded to King Jesus’ instruction to go to those “living in the hedges” and “compel them to come in”? Scary and challenging though that might be to some – the prize is that it seems as if it is the poor who recue the party!