As we continue our journey of thinking through the cure for poverty, it would be good for us to stop down and point out the obvious. All that we have talked about so far has simply been the big story of the Bible. So far, we have discussed the nature of God's design in "Creation" and the "Fall" of humanity through mankind's rebellion ("sin"), along with the systemic corruption of all of our relationships and all of creation ("brokenness") that followed along with it. The picture we have been painting has been fairly bleak but in identifying the root of all human suffering, sadness, and deprivation - including material poverty - we are ready to apply a cure, the gospel of the kingdom. And this is the next phase in the Bible's big story - redemption.
What is the gospel of the kingdom? I'm glad you asked. It is the message King Jesus came proclaiming. This gospel of the kingdom was His purpose in coming to earth: "I must preach the good news [gospel] of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose" (Luke 4:43).
What did Jesus Himself believe this message to contain? Luke 4:16-21 expounds it. Jesus, upon entering into the synagogue on a Sabbath is selected to read from the Scripture. He chooses the book of Isaiah and begins to read this passage from it:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
After reading the passage and sitting back down, He announces to the congregation, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." In other words, "Today, the Kingdom of God has come into your midst because the King is here setting right all that sin has made wrong." And that is precisely what the gospel of the kingdom is. The Kingdom is the place where all that sin has broken is being set right under the rule and reign of the True King. As His reign expands, the reign of brokenness is shattered and true goodness, joy, and love return. As the gospel of the kingdom is advanced good news is proclaimed to the poor, prisoners are set free, the blind see, the oppressed are liberated, and all around can both hear and see that the Lord's favor is upon His people.
At BridgeBuilders, we explain the restoration the gospel of the kingdom brings through the repairing of the four foundational relationships. As the gospel of Jesus Christ shines into the darkness of the heart, people repent of their rebellion and believe that Jesus bore the burden and wrath for their sins. This inaugurates an entirely new relationship with God and begins the process of reshaping man's heart. As we behold God we begin to see who we are truly supposed to be as His image-bearers. We realize our inherent dignity and worth and begin to find our purpose as God's people. Entering into community as people who have been restored by God's gospel, we begin to treat other of God's image-bearers with the same dignity and worth we know we have as God's children. Not only that, but we start to understand that to live the gospel of the kingdom is to live as a servant of all, just as Jesus our King does. Finally, the gospel of the kingdom opens our eyes to our purpose as God's people on earth, giving us the chance to live for something instead of floundering in brokenness. Our purpose as Christians is to recover and pursue God's Design for ourselves, our communities, and the world.
In the next post, we will begin to examine what that means and how we can recover and pursue God's design wherever our foot lands.