The Anointing is for speaking with demonstrable power and authority. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted , to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down . And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Fulfilled? How did this prophetic premonition of the Anointed One reach fullness? Well, it seems that when He spoke the words of the prophecy, He became the words of the prophecy. He spoke with demonstrable power and authority.
Jesus says the Anointing is, in part, for preaching or declaring good news to people who do not possess what He has the demonstrable power and authority to make available. Preaching to the poor means preaching to those who do not possess what that announcement makes available.
The “poor” are the ones who don’t have or have very little. It can mean, according to one expert, someone who is “destitute of learning and intellectual culture which human education provides because these aspects of personal preparation are more available to people of status and means.” People left out. People to whom these revelations have never been made available.
People of this condition were hungry for Christ’s teaching, and some of them had a lot of money. Jesus got into as much as trouble for preaching to the rich as He did for preaching to the poor, economically speaking. That is to say that the poor He refers to were those without the wealth of spiritual revelation as much as destitute of earthly wealth. He spoke with no regard for a person’s natural possessions, but He spoke to those to whom revelation had not been previously available.
Spiritually speaking, He seemed to pass up opportunities to speak to those with greater exposure to Truth while investing more of Himself in those ignored by the truth merchants. When He did speak to the educated, He rebuked their learning, offending their minds, penetrated past religious granite.
The Poor are Hungry
With our first steps into international ministry, we encountered a very singular hunger on the part of “poor” people. Economically, we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to preach to people who could not afford to pay our travel expenses bring this message to them. This investment is consistent with the strategy of the Anointing.
Spiritually, we have invested ourselves in people hungry for the message we are sent to preach, people to whom much has not been made available. These people were both teachable and transformable: they were uniquely ready for discipling.
I would like to add to the vocabulary of the modern American Church the term “transformable” and place it with the term “teachable.” Many Americans may be greedy for “a new revelation” who are really not willing to change. I am concerned that many of those with “conference-itis” are running around collecting cupcakes, moon pies, and spiritual red bull but refuse to be planted where they can be transformed through accountable relationships. This has nothing to do with the validity of the conferences, but with the spiritual appetites of the people. They are looking for desert bar selections that give them a spiritual sugar buzz more than training table jet fuel for champions.
I was speaking with some international leaders today, confessing that I fight the urge to be disgusted with some Americans who are bloated on revelatory input because of the hunger I have seen in some nations, the appetite of some people for what Americans tend to take for granted. Partly this comes from a strong hint among this American generation to assume we are entitled to richer fare without shouldering the responsibilities that “to whom much is given” demand.
God is making meat available because He knows that we were destined to complete the preparation to eat and digest meat. If we keep coming to the table only for dessert, we will develop blood sugar problems.
Jesus Rejoices in Providing the “Have Not’s”
Luke 10 says that Jesus was filled with joy of the Holy Spirit when the Seventy disciples returned from their preparation tour of the cities He was going to visit. “Filled with joy of the Holy Spirit” is something to picture! The reason the Son of God put His head back and laughed was that He was thrilled His Father had hidden the discipling treasure from “rich people who had the means and status of human education” and chosen to invest the mysteries of the kingdom in people “poor” in terms of their cultural enrichment.
Perhaps, to understand Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler we should view the encounter from His assignment viewpoint, to speak to hungry people. Jesus identifies the young man’s limitation by asking him to position himself to be needy. The “give the money to the poor” part of the strategy is as much about the young man’s “I’ve already done all that” than Jesus’ wanting to redistribute wealth. In other words, it would inconsistent with the rest of His message to assume that impoverishing himself was a redemptive action.
The rich young ruler was blind about his fatal flaw and was obviously not transformable. The difficulty of rich people to enter the kingdom lies in their innate satisfaction with their superior training. The young man’s question was, “I’m the one entitle to inherit, right?”
The rich often wish to add Jesus and kingdom to their lives like an after-market improvement to the basic machinery they possess instead of understanding that Jesus intends “to tear down their wagons” and start from the ground up with a whole new model.
The Poor More Ready for Change
Preaching to the poor represents speaking to people ready to receive life-change. You don’t sneak up on ’em and gradually wean them off the world with propaganda. You don’t offer them the opportunity to live a superior lifestyle without the personal transformation they require to maintain it.
You confront the hungry with Truth that demands a complete overhaul of life and living because they more ready for radical transformation. They don’t see themselves as entitle or having already possessed. They know they don’t have anything, so they are ready to receive everything. They aren’t looking for gravy on their mashed potatoes, but for radical, internal surgery.
You present a Message that arrives with transformational power because they know they can never be who they were created to be without power and authority from Someone else. So, they hungry for what you have been sent to release because they know they are empty.
Can I just confess that I would like to spend my life preaching to hungry people? Can I just say it out loud–that I get weary talking to people who don’t want real life-change? Can I admit that I am grieved at some deep level about the entitle mentality that assumes we deserve more because we already possess?
I think I understand what people mean when they say that God loves people just as we are. I think I do. Not sure. I hope what they don’t mean is that God doesn’t care if we change or not when that would pretty much blaspheme the purpose and power of the Cross.
God loves us in spite of our sin, so He provided for us to be rid of it! He isn’t covering up. He’s cleansing away! He isn’t bandaid-ing our wounds. He is healing them from the inside out so there is not scar. He loves us enough to never quit pursing us, but the reality is that born anew begins the greater pursuit of His jealousy for us to become the person He had in mind when He created.
When we get hungry for what God is hungry for, we will begin to receive the jet fuel from the training table of champions! Some food accelerates our metabolism while others clog and destroy the delivery systems designed to turn food into power.
I remember my younger brother sitting at the restaurant table staring at gourmet food and asking my dad if we could stop at the burger place on the way home to get something to eat. Sometimes I feel like a chef preparing prime rib for people who can’t wait for a happy meal, who play with the accompanying toy with as much enthusiasm as they have for the greasy fries.
To preach to the poor, you need to get in front of some people who don’t possess. They are willing to sink their teeth into gourmet they’ve never even tasted before while some spoiled kids sit at the table waiting for someone to put their favorites in front of them. The poor aren’t finicky, so they are ready for God’s menu instead of ordering what they had yesterday and the day before at the drive through on their way to living the same life they lived before.
That’s religion. That’s old wineskin death. That’s fatal satisfaction with the status quo. That’s why the first, second and third chapters of most pastoral theology books are about “making people comfortable” as if the church is a resort for relaxation when it is a training camp for radical freedom fighters.