The God of Good News
It has been a few years since I felt God give me my personal mission statement. I was reading the book of Isaiah, and as I read I thought, “This is exactly what I want to do!” So, I wrote it down and have carried it in my heart ever since. It was Isaiah 61:1-3 which says:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
I took this portion of scripture very personally. I do not have the space to dig too deep into theology right now, but I will say a couple of things about that.
#1 - I believe that we need to know the context surrounding each portion of Scripture to better understand what the text is saying. This particular portion of scripture is speaking of Jesus Himself. It is a prophetic picture of His ministry and what He will do.
#2 - I believe that all of Scripture is alive and given to us for specific answers to specific situations in our lives. I believe that God uses every word from His mouth to speak to our hearts. And, I believe that is what He did for me with Isaiah 61.
That said, I don’t believe that this portion of scripture is just for me - I think it is for you too. It is a great outline of how we can live out what Jesus called us to do when He said things like:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” - John 14:12
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” - Mark 16:15
But what exactly does that look like? Well, according to Isaiah 61 it looks like this:
For Those Who Do Not Yet Know Jesus, We Are To...
Tell those who are spiritually dead about Jesus and His love (bring good news to the poor) by being ready to witness to those who are open to it.
Give empathy to those who are hurting (heal the broken hearted) by being a shoulder and an ear, as well as praying for them.
Tell those who feel bound by their emotions and actions that there is freedom in Christ (proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners)
Have an understanding of God’s favor, as well as His judgement, what that means for those who do not know Him, and be able to communicate that message to others.
For Those Who Are Already Saved, We are to...
Comfort our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are grieving and remind them that in the ashes of our lives He gives us a crown of beauty. He really does work all things together for good for us when we allow Him to. (Romans 8:28)
Help them understand that they are oaks of righteousness, God’s own planting, created for His glory. And as a result, He has a plan and a purpose for them.
We have two choices here. We can do the above and bring encouragement, good news, and hope to others. Or, we can choose not to and let the world be what it is. Before making that decision, we need to remember that Jesus said we are salt and light (Matt 5:13-16) – and both of those have properties that affect the things around them.
Follow our Contributing Writer - Libbie Hall