Thursday, May 22, 2008

This comment left on my post “Jesus Loves the Rich: Part 2” was so interesting and thoughtful that I thought it merited a post all its own (you'd need to read it right quick to catch the rest of this post).

First, I don’t think that 90% of the Gospels deal with Jesus’ ministry time with the elite, though they were around a lot. What I mean is that He didn’t target the elite with 90% of His time and message. They did seem to always be listening in, represented mostly by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.

I like how Miles pointed out that Jesus didn’t necessarily go “under bridges” to pursue the poor. The poor came to Him, or people reached out to Him as He walked along , and He didn’t ignore them. Rich and poor alike came to Jesus, and He loved them all. I think that was more the point of my post – Jesus received all who came to Him and He loved them, no matter their class or status. When the woman with the issue of blood reached out to Jesus for healing, He stopped to restore her spiritually and socially, not just physically. When the blind man called out, “Son of David have mercy on me,” Jesus stopped and helped him to see. He pursued the tax collector (Zacheus), received the synagogue ruler (Jairus) and the centurion. He pursued the widow whose son had died, the demoniac in the tombs, and the woman at the well. He received Nicodemus, who came under cover of darkness. It is an interesting commentary on the Church today to consider whether people are drawn to Jesus, coming to Him as they see Him in His people, elite and poor alike, and whether people outside the Church feel pursued by Him as well.

Miles also seemed to be quietly commenting that Christians tend to compartmentalize ministry to the poor as being something we go and do at certain points, while with Jesus, it seemed to be part and parcel with His life. And perhaps one of the reasons that Christianity seems to model the “going under bridges” way of reaching the poor is that we aren’t comfortable with the “as you go/happenstance” ministry that God may provide. The ministry of interruption is not easy or convenient. That may be one of the reasons that he said he doesn't love the poor in the way that Jesus would want - we pass them by every day, not having time to stop (I do the very same thing).

It’s tempting for us to think that Jesus loved some people more than others, kind of remaking Him in the image of our choosing. If we are passionate about the poor, we think Jesus always hung out with the poor. If we are passionate for grace, we think He was always dissing the Pharisees. If we love justice, we emphasize the beatitudes in Luke. If we love spirituality, we emphasize the beatitudes in Matthew. But Christ loves every person, regardless of their race, class, social status. He loves them in the face of their sin and desires that every person come to know the life that He alone offers. Thanks to Miles for making me think more on this (and I imagine that he's not done yet).

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