“Elisha, the man of God, said, ‘Go sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your children can live!’” -2 Kings 4:7
Read 2 Kings 4:1-7
Jonathan first attended our church’s worship gathering a couple of years ago after an invitation from our interim pastor’s wife. One of our church leaders, Gordon, engaged deeply in Jonathan’s life, helping him with transportation and housing as well as teaching him responsibility and communication. Tim insisted that we prepare a membership “fast-track” to help Jonathan become part of the community. Daniel, a seminary student and local community activist, provided a residential discipleship intensive for Jonathan. Another local congregation employed Jonathan in their landscaping business, an enterprise encouraged by the seminary’s Center for Community Transformation. Jonathan is a growing disciple of Jesus.
Jonathan’s story matches up well with the story of the widow and her two sons of 2 Kings 4. Like them, Jonathan was “in debt” without resources to make his way (let alone pay his own way) in Fresno. Like the widow who looked to the “sons of the prophets” for assistance, Jonathan depended on the community of faith for identity and direction. The “Elisha” character in the story in 2 Kings 4 seems to have managed the widow’s case single-handedly, but more community development is hidden in the story than we perceive at first glance. Jonathan’s “Elisha” involves a community of faithful ones with gifts of evangelism, administration, help, teaching and compassion. The good news of both stories results in life, life that anticipates and grows out of the story of Jesus who came to proclaim good news to the poor.
God of the prophets and of the church, may the good news stories of life be told to your glory both now and forever!
Lynn Jost, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Anabaptist Studies and Professor of Preaching and Old Testament, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary