Tuesday, June 07, 2016

How to Love Widows and Orphans

Holland, Michigan

If God instructed you to build boats and involve your church community in it, the most effective way to accomplish this would not be to work hard at recruiting people for boat-building. A better way would be to give people a love for the ocean. If your people acquire this you will not be able to stop them from building boats.

This is how it works in the spiritual life. Give people a love for God's presence. When this is acquired the gates of hell cannot prevail against your community.

When people gain the heart of God that is what will be manifested in your church. For example, throughout Scripture we see God's beating heart for what Jesus called "the least of these." We see this in verses like James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  If the followers of Jesus in your church acquire God's heart for widows, orphans, and the least of these, you will not be able to stop your people from ministering to them.

On this past Sunday I felt God wanted to expand our hearts to contain even more of God's love for others. I handed out copies of Job 29:11-17. We read them together. These verses contain one of the most concise biblical statements of what a life of righteousness, purity, and holiness looks like. I told my people, "Carry these words with you this week. Pray that they would descend from your mind into your heart. Pray that they would become you."

The idea is this: once words like these get inside the hearts of God's people a fire that cannot be contained has been lit.

This is having its effect on me. I cannot get them out of my mind.

Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist him.
The man who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing.
I put on righteousness as my clothing;
justice was my robe and my turban.
I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy;
I took up the case of the stranger.
I broke the fangs of the wicked
and snatched the victims from their teeth.

—JOB 29: 11– 17


My book Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God is available HERE and as a Kindle book HERE