Tag Archives: mission

The Nazareth Manifesto

2017-08

One Sabbath Day, early in Jesus’ ministry, He visited His hometown of Nazareth and stood before the town’s synagogue filled with old friends and neighbors. That day, He read these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

These words, sometimes called “the Nazareth Manifesto,” are Jesus’ announcement to His friends and neighbors—and to us—what His coming and calling are all about.

A manifesto proclaims the aims and policies of a political party or candidate. Often, the manifesto consists of many words, all meant to win favor from the people.

In contrast, the Nazareth Manifesto’s words are few, and Jesus comes, not to stir a mass movement of public favor that sweeps Him into power, but to announce the irresistible will and authority of God to accomplish all He has just read. By this authority, He lays out what will surely come to pass to fulfill a prophecy from hundreds of years before.

He reaches out to four different kinds of people: the poor, captives, the blind and the oppressed. He does not define these terms because they include every manner of poverty, captivity, blindness and oppression that results from separation from God.

The “favorable year of the Lord” refers to the Year of Jubilee when once every 50 years, slaves received their freedom, debts were canceled, ancestral property was returned to the original owners. It is a proclamation of a new order.

The Nazareth Manifesto is a ringing declaration of Jesus’ power and ability to do it all.

Jesus’ Nazareth Manifesto is the model for the salvation we proclaim and practice before the world. We must not water it down but proclaim it in full, and like Jesus, do great works because He told us, “Greater things than I have done, you will do.”

Not everyone will accept Jesus’ Manifesto. His own hometown rejected Him, and for a time, even members of His own earthly family thought He was crazy. He faced great opposition especially from those who did not see themselves as poor, captives, blind or oppressed.

Jesus’ Nazareth Manifesto was not a political message or even a religious message, but a relational one. It required personal trust in Him alone to bring about the results He promised. It roused anger and opposition from the proud and those used to power because it proclaimed a sweeping away of the status quo.

Two thousand years have passed, but His aims have not changed. He still proclaims release to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom for the oppressed. He has delegated to us the task of preaching the gospel to the poor. One day, when He returns, we will see the fullness of the Year of Jubilee. The Nazareth Manifesto continues to arouse opposition from the status quo while it steadily wins new followers of Jesus Christ.

In 2000 years, the Nazareth Manifesto has already seen much accomplishment, but much more is yet to come! Let us make sure that we have made Jesus’ Manifesto our own!

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The First Mission Field

2017-03-slum-school-children-prayerOur children are our first mission field.

We live in a turbulent world inhabited by troubled youth and children, alienated from their families and society. Apart from a dramatic intervention by God, we face a troubled future whenever such troubled youth grow up, become parents themselves and take their places in seats of government, business, education, the arts, media and communication. How we raise our children today, influences our society for generations to come.

These things do not “just happen.” Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul identified a major cause for an alienated generation when he wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Too many parents stimulate rebellious spirits in their children when they resort to harsh discipline or fail to discipline them at all. Such extremes never work. What is needed is right discipline.

The key to right discipline is for parents to first discipline themselves, to submit themselves to their heavenly Father. Parents submitted to God know their children are not their personal possessions to treat as they please, but gifts of God. Parents are not to use children for their own purposes and ambitions, but to patiently help them to develop the unique personalities God gave each of them.

Like us, our children are born in sin. We depend upon God’s mercy and grace in our own lives, and we must treat our own children’s shortcomings with mercy and grace. Discipline is necessary, but to humiliate a child or inflict physical, verbal or emotional abuse have no place in a Christian home.

Paul tells us to raise our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This means parents must learn to sacrifice their own interests to bring their children into emotional and spiritual maturity by instruction and example. Fathers and mothers must spend less time at the office or other activities to accomplish this God-given mission. Their own children are always their first priority.

Trying to force religion down their children’s throats or coerce a “decision for Christ” is never right. Going to church, Sunday school and youth group are good, but even better, children should see in their parents consistent character, integrity, and kindness that win their respect and motivate them to become like their parents.

They should see in their parents a worldview and lifestyle that sets them apart from parents of neighbors and friends. They should understand from their parents that this difference comes because of God’s gospel of grace in their lives.

Children should hear regularly from their parents how God has changed their lives, answered their prayers, and been faithful. Children should see in their parents the joy of the Lord, and know their parents pray for them every day.

Children should see and hear their parents read their Bibles and pray for those in need. They should hear their parents apply the scriptures to their lives, work and family. They should see their parents take a vital interest in those who still live in darkness without the gospel.

Yes, our children and grandchildren are our first mission field. If we have done our job right, our children will more likely become God’s ambassadors to their own children and a needy world around them.

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