Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Universal Gospel

  “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people”. Luke 4:18

  This is the core and essence of our Lord’s gospel.  The mission of the church today is to continue this gospel mission to those who have not heard it.  After reading the above portion form the Books of Isaiah, Jesus rolled the scroll and gave it back to the attendant, a symbolic act, he entrusted us with the task of continuing the gospel mission.
            We as Christians proudly declare that gospel is for all the people, irrespective of nationality, gender or economic status.  The early Christians thought that Christianity was part of Judaism and they were looking for limited gospel spreading.  But in Mathew chapter 28:18 we read “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”  In Mark 16:15 we read “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Even though disciple’s outlook was limited, Peter learned the spirit of gospel through the conversion miracle of Cornelius that “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him”. (Acts 10 34-35)We learn from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles that when the apostles convened in Jerusalem under the direction of the Holy Spirit, God revealed that the gospel was to be taken to all men. Salvation was offered to Jews and Gentiles alike.  Today we accept that fact.  So gospel is universal in its scope.
          It is unfortunate that some groups in Christianity still believe in limiting gospel by separating people as ‘elect’ and ‘reprobate’.  The Bible does not teach that.  We should remember that during the civil rights movement in U.S.A., African Americans were not able to worship with white Americans.  Same way in India, there was a lot of prejudice against the newly converted Christians.  In Corinthians (1:26-31), Paul writes about the gospel which was more highly receptive among the common people.  The gospel of freedom creates partnership towards the poor, the afflicted and the humiliated because they are the bearers of the battle between humanization and enslavement.  When the church loses its courage to stand by the poor and the powerless, it automatically becomes the religion of the rich and the mighty.  God has chosen to accomplish his work of liberation and reconciliation by befriending the outcasts and the marginalized, by embracing the ungodly and by ministering to the sick and hungry.  The church cannot remain a silent spectator.  The proclamation of the gospel today involves a complete identification with the poor, oppressed and the marginalized.

Prayer: Oh! Gracious and Holy Father give us the wisdom to perceive your gospel in the proper meaning and enable us to fight against exploitation of the poor, and give us the courage to go to the end of the world to spread the good news.. Amen
Thought for the Day: The gospel is aimed at the common people especially the poor and those who never heard of the Lord’s Gospel.  Consequently we need to aim our sermons and evangelistic efforts in this direction.

Dr. Mathew Thomas, M T C, Philadelphia, PA