I came across this photo on this blog this morning.
I suspect like most of you, I grimaced and wanted to look away.
You probably did not want see it in the first place.
Now that it's too late to not see it, I supposed you could justify, make excuses for, or somehow compartmentalize this image into a scenario that does not involve you.
It's too real. It threatens to burst the bubble of my own little world.
So, like the man dressed in white we look away. We keep walking.
We click to something more pleasant. We buy another gadget that we think might fulfill us, soothe us or distract us from what we are meant to do. After all we deserve it...don't we?
Our children deserve the finest things our money can buy.
That is not our child.
We choose to walk away.
Maybe the man in the picture was busy, in a hurry, consumed with problems of his own.
Take a look again. I dare you.
It's almost too extreme isn't it?
It's nearly impossible to imagine your own child in that condition.
In fact, we can pretend this child is barely human, instead of a child who should be running, playing, and learning.
I'm disturbed. Which may not come as a surprise to some.
I am frustrated. What can I do? Why do so many other things distract and pull me?
I am filled with grief and remorse.
How can I justify the things that I justify, while outside the gates of my comfy life...
the world is dying.
Literally , emotionally, and spiritually.
Just another reminder that we live in a broken world. Altered. Corrupted.
"the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." Romans 8:22
The pangs increase.
We must open our eyes. We cannot afford to be lulled to sleep. Time is short.
Passivity goes against the very heart and passion of a loving God. As a Christian choosing to do nothing is disobedience. Could it be that we use apathy to prop ourselves up as superior to Jesus ,who left the riches of Heaven and touched those who we discard as untouchable. The same Jesus who plainly taught and showed us that wealth does not necessarily equal blessing, and poverty does not equate a curse. When we enter eternity with the blood of humanity on our hands we will be the ones to account for it, regardless of how much we left behind in our bank account.
We hoard what God has freely given.
We hoard the Gospel of grace and we hoard our "blessings" within the walls of our self indulgent kingdoms.
Maybe that suggestion irritates you.
Maybe I'm too radical, too emotional, too severe, or too extreme.
I'm ok with that.
What I fear being is complacent, luke-warm, deceived, or selfish.
My sin nature is all of those things.
I don't worship the cause of social justice. In fact that is a catch phrase that is sometimes followed by a lot of deception in itself. It does not earn us cosmic brownie points, a spot in Heaven, or enlightenment.
He doesn't tell us to uphold the cause of the orphan, the oppressed, and the voiceless because it will somehow fix this broken world on a whole.
At the same time that is not an excuse to close our eyes and do nothing.
God does not need me to help Him redeem His creation or attempt to usher in a utopic society.
He already sent a savior.
He knows and has appointed the days of this world from start to finish.
There will be justice regardless of what I do or don't do. God sees the oppression, the despair, the enslavement, and the apathy. Not a child dies in the dirt, is abused in a basement, or is tossed aside by a selfish culture, that is not known and loved by the One who created them.
Not a hair on their heads is unaccounted for.
Each one will be avenged by a Holy God.
Social Justice, although a very important part of our calling as Jesus followers, is not God's plan for redemption. It is a part of who God is, it is His heart, it is a command...but it is not the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not our salvation.
The death defeating cross of Christ and the grace of God is.
That alone is our hope in this world of decay.
Our sacrificial love poured out on those who cannot help themselves is an example of what God does for us.
God came to us, relates to us personally, and took from Himself to provide for us in our helplessness.
How can we not treat those in need the same way?
It is the natural overflow of the inexpressible LOVE, GRACE, and MERCY we have received from Him.
That is so much more than social concern, philanthropy, or good deeds.
It is worship.
It is the long suffering, sacrificial , awe inspiring, humbling, eternal work of the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us.
Maybe that work overflows into our family members in need of compassion and grace, maybe it's extending our family to include the orphan, the foster child or the struggling single mother. Maybe it overflows onto the homeless man under the bridge on your way to work or the child being pimped out on the street downtown. Maybe it means feeding, clothing, loving and giving hope to children in a far away land. It's being Jesus to the person in front of you each day, not only that, it is going out of your comfort zone and intentionally putting that person in front of you.
How often do those of us who claim the name of Christ become like a stagnant slough instead of a flowing life giving river of God's mercy and love.
This picture breaks my heart.
How much more does it break the heart of the One who uniquely created this child, the One who knows how many tears have streaked down dirty cheeks, the One who knows his name?
Sometimes we are tempted to cry out in anger, or stand judgement of God, as if we are fit to scrutinize Him.
How could a loving God allow this to happen?!
It is a very precarious place to attempt to stand in judgement of an eternal, all powerful, all knowing, inscrutable God. Like Albert Einstein's pencil questioning his theory of relativity.
If you look back to the account of Adam and Eve, isn't that how we created this mess in the first place?
Thinking we know better.
Thinking that we can rewrite His story to suit our preferences, steal His glory, and sit on His throne.
Maybe our line of questioning should be more along the lines of
"How can God continue to be so merciful to us despite our greed, our apathy, our ignorance, and the
worship of ourselves?"
Lord, have mercy.
Beauty out of Ashes from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:1-3
Isaiah was chosen and called for a purpose and specific time in history. We are also called to be a part of His story in His world now. The spirit of the Lord is on you...go..
preach, bind up, release, plant, comfort, heal, provide and proclaim.
For the display of His splendor.