So my plans for Monday’s new series of articles sort of got derailed. I say sort of, because I think God just gave me a crash course in the past 24 hours.
I was planning on writing about radical teachings of the bible that get ignored. I was thinking something along the lines of “sell all you have and give it to the poor.” But now I see that’s not where God wanted me to go, at least for today.
Yesterday I felt the nudging of God… well actually it was more like a smack, to aid a little girl who had lice. It was one of those moments when you are driving a long and planning your own quiet evening then the Lord says, “No thank you, I have other plans for you.” I have learned, at this point in my faith, to go with the nudging.
This little girl is a foster child who couldn’t stay at church camp because she had nits. God reminded me he prepared me for this moment a few years ago. We were plagued with a particularly resistant lice bug for months. So I called her caretaker and offered to pick nits. I spent 5 hours last night shampooing, combing, and picking. Unfortunately, even after treatment and all my efforts, another nit was found when we tried to return her to camp. She could not stay. She was offered no compassion. No help. And for the second time in 2 days was rejected.
Now, I don’t want to debate policy and procedures on contagious diseases and communal living, but I do want to use my small platform here to defend those who have no voice. “The Lord defends the rights of orphans” (Dt. 10:18) and so should I.
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).
So here it goes… when we put the name “Christian” on anything, we better make sure that it re-presents Christ to those we serve. I understand that whether we are talking homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or kid’s camp there are policies that have to be in place for health and hygiene. But, if there is nothing else that anyone hears from me today, hear this:
PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN POLICY!
As we serve we must remember all of our words and deeds shape other people’s view of the God we claim. Even more, every child we encounter will have their perception of the heavenly Father shaped by us. What message is received by a child who has been rejected by physical family, then rejected by a potential spiritual one?
I will let James, Slave of Christ, say his part:
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans… in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you…
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor!
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Think about how Jesus interacted with social outcasts. No one wanted to touch lepers, the diseased, crippled or the blind. But notice how Jesus treated them. He ate with them. He healed them. He spoke words of life to them. He led them to a family of God where they would never be rejected again.
How about if one of those outcasts happens to be a child?
On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Mark 9:24 MSG
So today, my prayer for all of us who put on the name of Christ, is that we will serve others with his spirit. Honestly, we’d be better off to stop serving than to blaspheme his name with our hypocrisy and law keeping (Rom. 2:17-24).
My friends, if you are called to ministry, expect to get dirty. And if you are called to minister to children, expect to get lice.