Reading the account of Lazarus death and resurrection in John, I was struck by the grief of our Savior. The onlookers remarked about his love for Lazarus. I re-read the account and it occurred to me that because He is God – what He grieved for was probably not what we might think he grieved for. Yes – He loved Lazarus; but it seems unusual to me that our Lord who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead would be weeping over the loss of life; so I re-read the passage several more times and then it occurred to me that the humanity of our Christ came face to face with the reality of the wages of sin and what it means for a fallen humanity. He was fully human – Yes! – but he was without sin! He loved these people deeply and what was happening here brought our Lord face to face with the effects that sin would have not only on the sinner, but on those whom the sinner loves. I believe that He grieved for their sinfulness. He grieved the effects of their unbelief. Continue reading
What if we really saw them? What if we chose not to look past them? What if did not criticize them in order to make our disregard of their presence okay? What if we trusted God with their motives? What if we didn’t sidestep them on the sidewalks? What if we didn’t ignore their phone calls? What if we didn’t pass on the opportunity to touch their lives? What if we chose to empathize? What if we carried their burden with them? We are in a season where seeing them is considered okay — but what if we made the choice to see them every day? Who are they? They are the ignored, the marginalized, the forgotten, the hurting, the needy, the lost, the sick — all of those that need something from us that they can never pay back. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation — leading the lost back to a right relationship with our King. How can they hear the message of the cross when they have not seen a good picture of His love for them?
When my sons were small boys (and even today as men) they had such compassionate hearts. When Joe was 8 years old, he cried when we drove through a skid row type area in Dallas; he wanted us to bring the homeless home with us. When Jeremy was around that same age, he saw a family’s house burned to the ground on the news and felt that we should clean out our whole house and give it to them. We nurtured their compassion and we were careful to teach them that this compassion was a necessary part of the gospel message. It is not by happenstance that they both care deeply for the souls of people AND for the lives of people.
For all of us the truth is that all we have and all we are – can be credited to The One who made us; who provides for us; who has gifted us. So to complete the message of the gospel it is necessary that we not only live holy before men, but we live before them in a way that says that we love them. We are not autonomous beings, though we live like it most of the time. It is not okay for us to hand out tracts to people and then treat them like they should fend for themselves. It is our duty (and it should be our joy), as a part of the gospel message that we see them — really see them. “They” might need money; food; clothing OR they might need love, a hug, an encouraging word; prayer — but whatever the need is we should be standing at ready to give or to be a connector as we preach the salvation message of the cross.
The Body of Christ is powerful – we have within us the power to change the world; to bring life, hope and peace into the world. We should live our lives fully for Him – as a blessing to the world; as messengers of both hope and salvation – so that when the end comes we will have exhausted the resources He placed in us to be a blessing in this world. What if I was ‘they’? What if you were ‘they’? What if HE were ‘they’?
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40)