Mark Bredin: Jubilee Generosity

“Jesus challenges “those who have” to trust God to care for their needs by sharing what they have with those who don’t have … John Nolland writes, “To be poor, hungry, and weeping is not at all the situation that Luke envisages in the ideal state of Christian existence” (Acts 2:43-47; 4:4). Poverty is not idealized in Luke, but the reversal of it is called for (Luke 1:48, 52-53; 16:25). This is evidenced in early Christian lifestyle choices that resulted in none being needy among the fellowship of the early church because generosity prevailed (Acts 4:34) …

Luke 4:18-19 alludes to the sabbatical year of Jubilee when the afflicted will be shown generosity, when all slaves are freed, debts canceled, the blind see, and prisoners are released … The Jubilee good news Jesus speaks of in Luke 4:19 is the “year of the Lord’s favor” and is an allusion to Isaiah 61:1-2 in which God’s promises to show his favor to the afflicted through Jubilee generosity. The good news of Isaiah 61:1-2 meant the restoration of land and livelihood to the afflicted–bad news to those who had plenty unless they embraced the message and shared material wealth…

Jesus calls for generous sharing as a form of countercultural witness to the human urge to compete, acquire, and consume … Jesus challenged his audience to think more deeply about the truly “afflicted” and so consider their own responsibility for the existence of real affliction in their own land.”

Mark Bredin in The Ecology of the New Testament: Creation, Re-Creation, and the Environment (Colorado Springs: Biblica, 2010) 47-48.

Today I am celebrating God’s jubilee generosity.

For me personally, today also marks the end of 50 days with minimal travel. The family time has been priceless. I’ve also enjoyed the gift of time to reflect on God’s generosity to us in Jesus and the jubilee generosity that He desires to make known through us, His followers. Candidly, this season of reflection has been simultaneously refreshing and convicting for me. I have come to realize that as a recipient of God’s generosity, my participation with God in His work bears fruit when I live like Christ and does not bear fruit when I live like the culture.

I came to this awareness through blocks of time set aside for solitude and writing. During my jubilee, by God’s grace I wrote a 122-page biblical stewardship curriculum for use in colleges and seminaries entitled, Faith and Finances. In this curriculum, I repeatedly contrast what the Word teaches vs. what the world teaches to help Christ-followers understand Jesus’ teachings and do what He says. In doing the research for this project, the Spirit showed me areas in my own life where there was work to be done, so I conclude my jubilee with this prayer for myself and readers of these daily mediations:

Father in heaven, work in our lives by your Holy Spirit so that through us, your jubilee generosity will flow richly and represent a countercultural witness for Christ. Make it so in our lives this year and beyond, we pray. Amen.

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