I keep coming back to the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free.
In thinking on these verses, I’ve been forced to ask how I am personally participating with Christ in this ongoing mission first pronounced two thousand years ago. We still have the poor in our midst and the gospel–Jesus says, is good news to them. It’s the great news that Jesus is not only with them in poverty, but is able to lift them out of that poverty.
There are still prisoners today. Individuals who through circumstances are physically and literally incarcerated. And there are others who are held captive mentally, or spiritually. To these individuals, the gospel is a message of liberty to them. This same gospel is supposed to bring ‘recovery of sight’ to those who are blind. The Bible accounts instances of Jesus healing the blind and causing them to see. Yet there are individuals today we interact with–in our families, our workplaces, or schools. They might be able to see physically, but they are spiritually blind. Paul mentions that such individuals have their minds blinded to the gospel and are unable to believe God’s message of good news. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
As an individual who experienced homelessness in my youth–living with my family at the YMCA in downtown Ottawa, to various family shelters and group homes, I can relate to God’s message of good news to the poor. I’ve never been to jail, yet I’ve often felt captive to circumstances, habits, and sin. Once again, it was this same gospel of Jesus Christ that broke these mental shackles and declared me free from sin. Finally, I continue to experience recovery of sight. It began 10 years ago when–despite growing up in a Christian home, my eyes were finally opened to the Jesus of the Bible and His teachings. My eyes continue to open daily as my mind is renewed and my understanding of God and His purposes are unveiled.
It’s a privilege to work alongside individuals who share similar stories. I feel even more blessed knowing that the work we do is enabled by individuals who sacrifice their time, money, and prayers for the sake of bringing this same gospel to children and families impacted by poverty.
This gospel brings hope to the poor, liberates the captive, and brings sight to the blind. It’s my prayer that Toronto City Mission, local churches in Toronto, and whoever you are reading this blog, will feel the need to embody and proclaim this message to those who visibly appear fine–yet have a poor self-image, captive to sin, and oppressed by the vicissitudes of life. Please pray that we would together seek opportunities to bring this good news to those we’re bound to encounter day by day.