I will admit upfront that this post will provoke thought and challenge the reader. It has been several months since the last post and there has been a multitude of different reasons for that.
Throughout history God has clearly declared His desire for how His people are to live. The two great commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus expands the latter command to love others as He has loved us. So clearly love is the center of God’s desire toward man and it is also His desire for man toward Him and to our fellow men. This should really be simple. But in reality men complicate it. Our selfish nature rules our decisions naturally and that comes at the expense of God and others. Yet the greatest joy and peace man can experience is living out the love of God. There is something so pure and right about it. It brings healing to the soul and to the conscience. This conscience is the point of this post. For it has puzzled me as I have been called to this work of missions to the lost and the orphan and widow how the response of love is often complicated and resisted by those who profess to be followers of Christ. As I read the scriptures I see that this is also God’s response;
Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The Lord looked and was displeased
to find there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that no one intervened
to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
and his justice sustained him. (Isaiah 59:15-16 NLT)
It seems that this is something that amazes God also. That is quite a statement from the Creator of the heavens and earth. Other versions use the word “wondered” and “amazed”. Consider what the LORD says in Jeremiah;
He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well.
Is not that what it means to know Me?”
Declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 22:16 NASB)
Also consider this verse:
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17 ESV)
God clearly is looking for His people to be the ones who intervene on behalf of those who are helpless. That is what He did for all of us at calvary where Jesus suffered to save those who were helpless to save themselves. So what should be the response be when God’s people become aware of the need of those that are perishing and the plight of the orphan and widow. There are times when the response is guilt. Initially that in of itself is not wrong. How are we as men to recognize sin and wrong in our lives without an initial sense of guilt. But this is where we have a choice. We can choose the freedom of repentance and be motivated by love to be the people God has called us to be. If we do not choose that then we choose selfishness. If the sacrifice that love demands leaves us sorrowful then we are left only with guilt to motivate us. What follows is resentment, resistance, and, to numb the conscience, the result is indifference.
For the man or woman who has been saved they have become new people. The scriptures use the terms regenerated, born again, and new creation. It also says all things have become new. The very presence of the Savior Himself is in communion with them by the power of the Holy Spirit. God takes the hard heart of stone and gives a new heart of tenderness and compassion. Compassion now directs the conscience. I “have to” because of guilt is now replaced with new desires of “I want to” and “I long to”. Compassion is not sympathy or good intentions it is empathy which moves the individual to action. Compassion does not say “it is not my problem, it is somebody elses”, it says what can I do? However EVERYBODY who has experienced the grace of God truly will ask this question of themselves. It may be to be moved to heartfelt and burdened prayer. It may be to add to that prayer to give to help. It maybe to add to praying and giving to be the one to directly meet that need. But it will never be indifferent. Compassion acts in joyful sacrifice to be like the One who has saved them. And now they do this because they are new. They are not doing it to earn God’s grace but as the natural outflow of those who were also helpless themselves, and recipients of God’s grace.
As I close this post consider the example of the early Christians in Macedonia. They were burdened for their brothers and sisters many days journey away and not just those right in their own area.
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
Let us who profess the name of Christ follow this great example of demonstrating the power of the love of the One who was dead but is now alive for evermore.