Jesus: a compassionate disruptor

Jesus notebook and bible
Kiri Adams

Social Policy Manager

With a general election on the horizon, we must follow Jesus’ example in the way we choose to respond. 

Jesus was a prolific disruptor. Despite the customs and expectations of his day, he refused to turn a blind eye to damaging behaviours, mindsets, cultures and institutions. Instead, he broke boundaries and spoke out against injustice, even when people in power reviled him for it.

As per the rules given to the Jews in the Old Testament, the Sabbath was a day of rest and only rest. Working was strictly prohibited. When Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath in Mark 3:1–6, he encounters people who already feel negatively towards him and who are looking for something to accuse him of. So, when he breaks the rules and heals a man with a painful disability that would have caused him to be excluded from society, Jesus is condemned for it, regardless of the fact he is transforming the man’s life, both physically and socially.

When Jesus chose to go against what was socially acceptable or expected, which wasn’t a rare occurrence, it was never self-serving or meaningless, nor a bid for dominance. His actions were always motivated by a deep compassion and love for his creation. He was always in pursuit of freedom, healing, forgiveness and inclusion. If you look at any of the stories in which he breaks the rules’, you’ll find that they all result in restoration and reintegrating the marginalised into community. Disruption was good – not for the sake of disruption itself, but for bringing things into the way they were always intended to be.

Right now in the UK, injustice is having a field day. Poverty is not only invading an alarming number of homes, but the impact is deepening at the same time. The number of people living in destitution, identified by not being able to afford to stay warm, clean and fed, more than doubled between 2017 and 2022. 

Millions across the UK are now just about scraping by on an income far below the standard poverty line. 

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2023 

But God’s desire for us is not that we might merely survive – he wants us to thrive. He wants to give us life in all its fullness and, as Christians, that’s the transformation we should pursue. We’re surrounded by people who need help, who need love, compassion and hope, and as Christ’s hands and feet on earth, it is our mandate to take action. Just as Jesus refused to sit back and accept things as they were, we too must face the reality of UK poverty in 2024 and fight back, speaking out against injustice and amplifying the voices of those with lived experience.

At CAP, with your support, we’re committed to collaborating with the various power structures in the UK – politicians, civil servants, regulators, lenders – in order to secure the best outcomes for people affected by poverty. Always bearing in mind the brutal impact on individual lives, we seek to focus our attention on the systems and structures that pull people into financial difficulty and that keep them trapped there. 

With a general election on the horizon, we’re determined to see tackling poverty high on the list of priorities for every political party seeking to be in power. We simply cannot accept anything less. It’s crucial that people everywhere engage with their elected representatives, and those who would seek to become them, urging them to make sure tackling poverty is being prioritised as highly as it ought to be. It is first and foremost on God’s heart, and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be first and foremost in the minds of people in all kinds of power everywhere, from employers to politicians, church leaders to headteachers.

If you would like to be equipped to speak with confidence on the issues of UK poverty and to play your part in seeking change, the first step is to sign up to receive our monthly campaigning emails.

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Just as Jesus sought to disrupt injustice thousands of years ago, through healing the man in the synagogue that day and so many other instances, now is the time for his people to stop poverty in its tracks. Together, let’s bring this thief of joy and life to justice once and for all.

Bible study

Use the following prompts in your church, small group or individually to reflect on how we can follow Jesus’ example in our response to UK poverty.

Start by reading Mark 3:1–6.

How might Jesus have felt when he first walked into the synagogue?

How do you feel about being disruptive’ in pursuit of justice and ending UK poverty?

Why do you think Jesus asked the disabled man to stand up in front of everyone’ rather than healing him away from prying eyes?

What do Jesus’ actions in this passage tell us about what mattered to him, and how can we reflect this in our own lives?

What could you or your church do this year to make sure tackling poverty is prioritised by those standing in the upcoming general election?


Dear God, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, who showed us the way through his life on earth. He embraced the marginalised, healed the sick and showed compassion to the outcast. His life was a testament to love in action, and we aspire to follow in his footsteps as we respond to the pressing issue of UK poverty.

Help us, God, to open our hearts to those who are living in poverty, seeing in them the face of Jesus. May we be moved with compassion, just as Jesus was moved, to extend a helping hand, share our blessings and pray for miraculous change. Fill us with the courage to challenge unfair systems that drive people into poverty and that keep them trapped there. May we be advocates for change, working tirelesslyto create a society where everyone has enough to not only survive, but thrive.

In everything we do, may our actions be fuelled by love, guided by compassion and inspired by the selfless sacrifice of Jesus.