Editor's note: This is the second of a three-part series looking at What Does God Care About? Whom has He called us to care about? What has He commissioned us to do? What should be our practical response? Last week we examined the power and responsibility of stewardship and its impact on justice. Today, Michelle Melchor, Cru Inner City team director for Atlanta, looks at whom God cares about. Next week, in our final article of the series, we'll take a look at God's commission to the church to cooperate in helping others flourish. Specifically, what is Cru Inner City, in collaboration with our partner organizations, doing to share God's love through acts of justice?
In the previous article, "What Does God Care About?," Aaron Robertson wrote about God's holiness expressed in His heart for justice — that everyone should flourish, be free to realize their potential, and use their God-given resources to help others fulfill God's plan and purpose for their lives.
Now let's look at how this is lived out in the Christian community by discovering who God wants us to care about and how to do it.
Jesus taught the young lawyer that the greatest commandment is to love God with your whole self and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. For most of us, the greater challenge is loving our neighbor, especially when the neighbor looks, talks and believes differently from us.
This is why the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is so powerful an example of loving our neighbor and caring for the people God cares about. The young lawyer was quite secure in his knowledge and application of the law. But Jesus challenged him to go beyond the letter to the heart of the law by using the parable of a "despised Samaritan" who obeyed God's command and then went further by spending his time and resources to care for a stranger. The victimized man was Jewish, but he was scorned and neglected by his own religious leaders. The Samaritan, who was considered a foreigner and an unbeliever, revealed God's heart for the helpless. The Father desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13).
|"As a community of believers, we can reflect God's holiness by bringing justice to our sphere of influence, starting with our families and an ever-widening circle of relationships."||In Psalm 146:7-9, we have a list of the people God cares about — the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, those weighed down, the godly, the widow, the orphan and the foreigner. That's a lot of folks! These are the people to whom Jesus says He was sent to minister in Luke 4:17-19.|
Throughout Scripture, God measures righteousness and holiness by how we treat and care for the poor. In pleading his case to the Lord, Job recounted his care for the poor (Job 29:11-17; 31:13-20). In Matthew 25:31-45, Jesus says we will be judged by God according to how we have cared for or neglected those in need.
As a community of believers, we can reflect God's holiness by bringing justice to our sphere of influence, starting with our families and an ever-widening circle of relationships.
Aaron's article talked about stewardship of the many gifts and blessings God has given us as a means of revealing God's holy purpose in the world. The first and best gift the Lord has given us is His Holy Spirit living in us, empowering and guiding us how to use His fruit and gifts to help others flourish. We are commanded at least 11 times to love one another in the New Testament. We are also told to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of one another, to submit to one another, to agree and work together with each other, to motivate one another to acts of love and good works and to encourage one another by meeting together regularly. Think about the impact this would have on your family, your church and your community if we were "one anothering" as God has called us to do.
Who in your immediate or extended family fits in the list in Psalm 146? Who in your church needs a word of encouragement, help with a family problem or financial assistance? Who among your employees or coworkers is struggling with a heavy load? Who among your neighbors or in your community needs food, clothing, shelter or medical care? It's easy to overlook the fact that Christians are among the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, foreigners and others in the list of God's special people. We will have to give an account for how we treat our Christian brothers and sisters in need. ".... when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters you were doing it to Me" (Matthew 25:40, New Living Translation).
Of course, it's a long list, and we could easily be overwhelmed. We can think about it as concentric circles of influence, like Jesus' command to go to "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Charity begins at home. Starting with your own family, ask God to show you if there is a need you can meet, a way you can "one another" someone in your home or extended family. Then move to the next circle, your church, then your neighborhood and keep going as God leads you.
How are you investing what God has invested in you to reveal His holiness through godly stewardship, using your talents, treasure and time to provide opportunities for others to flourish in the Christian community and beyond?
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, New King James Version)?"
Michelle A. Melchor is team leader for Cru Inner City Atlanta. She has served the ministry for 46 years.
What a wonderful reminder of how God has commissioned us to help others flourish. Help spread this timely message by sharing this link on Facebook or other social media platforms.
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