A few of us met last Thursday to discuss Transforming Mission’s third chapter. It is on Luke-Acts and is entitled, “Practicing forgiveness and solidarity with the poor.”
When we started Claypot in 2003 we realized that we didn’t understand church anymore. But we were fascinated by Jesus and started studying His life and teachings. Our entry narrative was the book of Luke and it was perfect for our mono-cultured rich suburban group.
Bosch contends in this chapter that Luke is a “Gospel for the poor – and the rich.” It is this double-ring audience that captured our group. In the narrative of Luke we discovered a Jesus who had a definite “bias toward the dispossessed” and calls the rich into a relationship with the poor. In those early days our community started the journey of confessing the lie of the middle class. The lie that we’re not the rich. We also walked into the grace of building friendships with the poor – and Luke was to blame!
Bosch quotes Schottroff & Stegemann who states,
“If we did not have Luke we would probably have lost an important, if not the most important, part of the earliest Christian tradition and its intense preoccupation with the figure and message of Jesus and the hope of the poor”.
Since those days I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the book of Luke and I dare say that it has become my favorite gospel. I wonder what would happened if all South African Christians struggle in the books of Luke/Acts and use that struggle as a story to live into our South African story?
Bosch holds up Zacchaeus and Barnabas as “paradigms of what Luke expects of wealthy Christians” (p.102). In a culture preoccupied with models, especially church growth models, why are we not adopting these two role-models as strategies of engagement? I have my hunches why I think this is so …
Bosch drives his point home when he particularizes the implications,
“In economic terms, it means that the rich members of Luke’s community are challenged to give up a significant portion of their wealth, and also to perform specific unpleasant actions, such as the issuing of risky loans and the canceling of debts.” (p.103).
I’ve been fascinated by the ACTS 2 rhetoric in churches worldwide. Everyone wants to be an ACTS 2 church but does that include,
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need?
Luke (and Bosch) would say YES!
“Luke undoubtedly wishes to communicate to his readers what is today often referred to as God’s preferential option for the poor, but this option cannot be interpreted in any exclusive sense. It does not exclude God’s concern for the rich, but, in fact, stresses it for, in both his gospel and Acts, Luke wishes his readers to know that there is hope for the rich, insofar as they act and serve in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. In their being converted to God, rich and poor are converted toward each other. The main emphasis, ultimately, is on sharing, on community. At various point=s in Acts, Luke highlights this ‘communism of love’ (p.104)
What would it look like to follow a Zacchaeus and Barnabas kind of Jesus life? Your thoughts would be appreciated …