You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost … (Ezekiel 34:4).
Prevailing wisdom generally asserts that no one is truly altruistic; everyone has an agenda or is working some kind of angle for personal gain. And yes, sadly, it is also true we Christians often talk a better game than we play. But let’s look at the biblical prophets for a moment. The cause they served and the messages they preached were largely on behalf of the overlooked—those who had no voice of their own. The above text from Ezekiel is a good example. And it is much of this thought and concern that also serves as the precursor to the cause of Jesus:
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19 quoting Isaiah 61:1-2).
There was no money to be made or political influence to be peddled by such stances. These were not popular proclamations with those who controlled the power. Consequently, those who proclaimed them often met with less than desirable ends.
Similar perspectives rang out from the voices of Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, and Micah. And, from the Christian perspective, their combined concerns were best and most fully embodied in Jesus. It has been God’s desire from the beginning of Abraham’s call (Genesis 12:1-3) that the same should be embodied in us—to humbly carry on the call, the perspective of the prophets, and the spirit of Jesus.
But the Bible is honest as well, and realistic. We hear less about heroes of the faith and those who succeeded with no struggles; we hear more about people like Jacob, Leah, Cain, and Adam and Eve. In other words, we hear about mistake-ridden people just like us.
We all can and should do better. But the failings of Christian people, all of us human to the core, never dull the flame of God’s dream. From each generation, God calls new purveyors of hope and justice. There is much to be done—there continues to be much wrong in the world and in our communities. Too many are left out, too many are too busy to know or understand or care. But God’s continual message echoes through time: “You have not strengthened the weak, sought the lost…” Followers of Jesus attempt to emulate his thought and action: “…bring good news to the poor … proclaim release of the captives…”
This week, consider what this means, and how we might do a better job ourselves!
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK: Help us, God. Guide our considerations of lifestyle and pleasures; open our eyes to the world around us, both the beauty and the pain. Deepen our concerns; broaden our compassion; use us in kindness and humility to offer ourselves in your name.