Since the Fall of humankind, people have taken advantage of other people (or gone down trying). This is sin’s way. The Scriptures are replete with examples: Jacob’s and Laban’s shenanigans (Genesis); Rehoboam’s unjust labor policies (First Kings), Haman’s murderous ploy (Esther). Those are just for starters, and little has changed across the spectrum of successive generations. From Persia to Peoria, that’s the way it really is.
Thankfully, the Bible’s backdrop is not human merit, but divine grace. Grace wins. We don’t get past Jacob’s story before we see that.
But that’s not my attempt to minimize, in any way, the plight of those who are victimized, marginalized, and hurting. Our sins against each other levy heavy tolls this side of heaven. (That’s why we need grace in the first place.)
Where people are hurting and struggling to make it, there should be our heart. Because there is the heart of our God! We observe God’s unfathomable compassion for the down-and-out on nearly every page of Scripture. God selected a nation of slaves to be His own special people – His own peculiar inheritance. He sent angels with good news to poor shepherds. He loves widows and orphans, and calls you and me to do the same. Our high and holy calling is to minister to the suffering, to visit the imprisoned, to bear the sorrows of those around us, and to protect the defenseless unborn.
Some of those around us are suffering because of poor personal choices and careless sins. Others are suffering because life on this fallen planet sometimes, well, hurts.
But your calling and my calling is to love, as we have been loved (John 13:34-35). To be on the lookout for opportunities to display such a magnanimous heart may not square with all of our friends, with pop culture, or with self-help ethics, but LOVE ought to be how you and I live (and how we feel). After all, we are in Christ. Thankfully, Jesus was – and indeed is – the friend of sinners. In my mind’s eye, I can see Him pursuing the woman at the well as if she were the only person on Earth.
Charles Spurgeon preached: “A vague notion is abroad in the world that the benefit of Christ’s passion is intended only for good people. The preaching of some ministers, and the talk of some professors, would lead the uninstructed to imagine that Christ came into the world to save the righteous, to call the godly to repentance, and to heal those who never were sick.” 1862 or 2016, it’s really much the same.
Christ is Lord. He is head of the body. We are His, the various and sundry parts of His body. By His resurrection power, at work even now in and through us, you and I are being transformed from scattered, fearful, and faithless doubters – like the apostles – into world-changers. All for Christ’s glory. We must remember that once, a long time ago, a little band of disciples who were maligned and persecuted swelled in faith and grace until they filled Jerusalem with gospel truth. And the rest is global history.
Chris Tomlin sings:
“Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles …”
Our God is the defender of the weak! For this we give Him thanks and praise.