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You can learn a lot about Jesus’ priorities from Luke 4, when he sets his agenda for the rest of his ministry. You can’t read the Gospels without realizing that Jesus had a unique interest in the marginalized of society. The marginalized weren’t on the edge of Jesus’ ministry. They were at the heart of it.
Jesus said, “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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV).
Who was at the forefront of Jesus’ mind as he started his ministry? The poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the oppressed. In fact, how we care for the marginalized demonstrates our love for Jesus.
Jesus told us this in Matthew 25:35-36: “I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me” (NLT).
After I wrote The Purpose Driven Life, I got more attention than I ever thought was possible. All of a sudden I received calls from people like Bill Gates, Jack Welch, and the president of the United States. I was asked to speak at the Davos Economic Forum, TED Talks, the United Nations, and Congress. I really couldn’t believe it. I was a pastor. I had intentionally avoided putting our Saddleback services on TV because I didn’t want the church turned into a studio.
I wasn’t interested in the fame. But the book ruined that.
I had to decide what I was going to do with all of that influence. That’s when God gave me Psalm 72. It’s Solomon’s prayer for more influence. He was the most powerful man in the world, but he prayed that God would give him more influence. It seems arrogant the first time you read it, so why did Solomon do it?
He says why in verses 12-14: “He will rescue the poor who cry out and the afflicted who have no helper. He will have pity on the poor and helpless and save the lives of the poor. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious in his sight” (CSB).
Solomon asked God for influence so he could use it to help the marginalized. That’s why God has given you influence, too. You may not think you have influence, but you do. God wants you to use whatever influence you have to help others.
The purpose of your influence is for you to speak up for those without any.
Let me give you an example of how you can help.
In about four months, approximately 2.7 million children will face Christmas without a parent due to incarceration. Many feel the abandonment, loneliness, and shame that come when a parent goes to prison. These children become marginalized.
This is why I believe in Angel Tree. It’s a ministry that cares for the children of those in prison. The ministry starts by allowing churches like yours to provide Christmas gifts for children whose parents are in prison. Although you will be the one who buys and delivers the gift, it’ll have the name of their incarcerated parent on it. Why? So the parent gets to be the hero. Since Prison Fellowship cares about the spiritual destiny of each of those children, they also give them a free easy-to-read copy of the Bible with the gift.
But Christmas is just the tip of the iceberg. All year, you’ll have an opportunity to meet the spiritual and physical needs of families in your community through the Angel Tree ministry.
We’ve partnered with Prison Fellowship through their Angel Tree ministry for years at Saddleback. It’s a great opportunity to use your influence to help the marginalized in your own community.
I believe it’s what Jesus would do.