I used to think that God has a special place in His heart for the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless – and He does. But actually it is more than that. When God says to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the outcast to your home, to spend yourself on behalf of the poor (Isaiah 58) it is not just that He is being kind, it is because this is the very essence of WHO He is. This is God Himself, reaching down to us in our poverty, our need and our sin. When God came to earth as the man, Jesus, this was the ultimate act of sharing with the poor, serving the needy and clothing the naked. He could have stayed where He was, in the light and worship of glory, but He didn’t. He spent Himself on behalf of the poor, by coming to this dark, sin-sick, broken world. He not only identified with humanity by becoming clothed with human flesh, He went further. By His death on the cross He was numbered amongst the transgressors and although He never sinned, He took the punishment in the place of the transgressors of His divine law – you and me. This was the ultimate act of intercession. This was the ultimate act of giving.
Even a cursory reading of the Bible will show God’s heart towards the widows and fatherless, the oppressed and needy. Although we can never atone for the sin of humanity, that was His work alone, He does call us to share the burden of those who have been forsaken, trampled and broken. To allow ourselves to see suffering and need and not to walk on by. As Jackie Pullinger says “love looks like something”. Love can be sharing your food with the hungry, helping out a single mother, even inviting someone in for a coffee.
God is not interested in self-serving religion or religious activities that are devoid of His heart. In Isaiah 58 He condemns those who fast because “in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your labourers…Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” (verses 3-7)
Of course it’s not easy. It’s not easy and it’s rather uncomfortable to allow yourself to see and identify with human need. It wars against our fleshly nature which is constantly crying out to us “Comfort! Convenience!”
It’s been hard for me. I am not going to pretend that I have found it easy. The hardest part for me has been the intrusion upon my own time. I am naturally a bit of a hermit at heart. I like my own time and space, and my own company. But because we have a food
pantry that is operated from our garage we do often have people turn up unexpectedly and at inconvenient times. In particular God has used one lady with serious mental health issues to crucify my flesh. It has been painful. From the start the Holy Spirit told me to never reject her, even in my heart. That has been hard and I admit, I have not always been able to do it.
But today again she came. I invited her in for a coffee. We spent a lovely time together and she ministered to me by singing songs the Holy Ghost had given her.
“I refuse to give up
I refuse to give in
I keep hanging on to the King of Kings
The Lord of Lords…”
As she was leaving my home she turned to me and said “Thank you for always making me feel welcome. Don’t’ ever lose that. It is so important to people who have been rejected.”
OH God, help us to hear the cry of your heart and to do it! To become people of action, rather than just of words! To do something, anything!
Love looks like something.