Isaiah 1:17 – “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Sunday, November 8th, 2015 is Orphan Sunday. The technical definition of an orphan is a child whose parents have passed away. But on this Sunday, we consider and pray for the families that have made ministry to the orphans a priority in their lives, and we especially pray for God to work to bring justice to those children whose biological parents have either passed away or abandoned them.
As we read through Scripture and understand God’s heart, we see a theme. God is a God of mercy and compassion. He cares for the hurting and for the marginalized; and Psalm 11:5 reveals that he has very strong feelings toward those who oppress the wicked. “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked one who loves violence.”
Throughout the prophets, one of the recurring issues that God condemned was the oppression of the weak, hurting, and marginalized by the wealthy. It says they oppressed the poor, crushed the needy, and turned aside the way of the afflicted. When Amos says that they turned aside the way of the afflicted, what he is saying is that they turned a blind eye to them. They gave them the cold shoulder. They pretended they didn’t see the afflicted. They didn’t give the marginalized the time of day. This was what God despised.
Think then to the three-year ministry of Jesus. He went after the marginalized. He healed the ones no one wanted to talk to, be around, or touch. He showed love and care for the ones people hated the most. He didn’t turn aside the way of the afflicted; he showed them the love and care and concern of God the Father. Jesus’ ministry model is Jesus’ ideal example for us to follow.
When you study the prophets, you also find that people justified their blind eye toward the hurting by doing and by working the sacrificial system. They would do all the religious things, but on their way to the temple they would turn their blind eyes to those who needed their mercy and love. For this reason, God at numerous times argues that he is sick and tired of all the blind obedience when there are people that are desperately hurting around them.
In Wausau, in Wisconsin, in the United States, in North America, and in the entire world there are people hurting. There are children who are living on the streets employed by the city pimp. There are children who are slaves in the sex-industry. There are children growing up in orphanages. There are children being abandoned by their parents. There are children being ignored by the rest of society.
I am so thankful for the way God has spoke to the many families at Wausau Alliance Church who have dedicated themselves to orphans. My prayer is that all of us would realize the significance of how we ourselves were the marginalized, the isolated, the lonely, and the desperate because of our separation from God; that we would realize that God showed us mercy and grace, and through Jesus has adopted us as his own sons and daughters. May we have the heart and mind of God as his sons and his daughters.