John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” Matthew 11:2-5
There’s a difference between Jesus and many evangelicals today.
Evangelicals have always been primarily concerned about personal salvation and personal spiritual growth — stress on the personal. You accept Jesus, not just as your savior but as your personal savior. Where other people come into the picture, it’s all about witnessing to them to the end that they, too, might accept Jesus as their personal savior. Once that’s accomplished, you’re pretty much done, except maybe to get them into a local church.
Jesus, on the other hand, is constantly reminding us about our role in society. It’s what He did when He was here and it’s what He preached with the red letters. He talks about showing mercy, making peace, seeing that the poor are fed, that justice is done, that the needy get aid, and that the poor have the Good News preached to them.
If Jesus were here today, He would most likely be found among the homeless and the poor rather than on Wall Street. Not to say He doesn’t love those on Wall Street, it’s just that His message is more readily received by those who are hungry and needy, both physically and spiritually. It’s how He identified Himself to John the Baptist.
So if we’re going to concern ourselves with the red letters of the gospels, we are going to have to learn how to be concerned about the whole person, not just people’s souls. It’s the whole person we care for and the Good News comes along with that. That’s what the red letters keep telling us.