What does God want us to do?
If I had to pick one Bible verse to give an answer, I might choose I John 3:23 which says:
And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
Believe and love. Got it. I know who to believe but who should I love? Everyone?! Okay so if everyone is my neighbor, then which neighbor should I love first?
That is a great question. When we think about how to love our neighbors, we need to remember our duty to love and care for those closest to us first. I fail in charity if I love my coworkers by spending quality time with them while neglecting to love my wife by spending quality time with her. We can envision the priority of our duties by thinking of concentric circles based on proximity. You can dig deeper into this by reading this article.
So we start by caring first for our family, then for Christians in our local church, then for etc…
That is somewhat straightforward but what about when it comes to those in need in our neighborhoods? The needs can seem countless…the elderly person who needs a friend, the man outside of Wawa asking for change, the local school needing parent involvement, the middle aged man who was laid off, the pre-teens looking for acceptance, and on and on…
Where do you begin? How do you steward your time and resources? What do you say “yes” to and what do you say “no” to? It can be confusing and hard to navigate. I do not have a definitive answer to rank and prioritize those needs. This is what we do have: the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God’s revealed word to us.
This is what we do know from the Bible: our Father in heaven loves and cares for the fatherless on earth. When reading the Bible, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the needs of the orphan are high up on the priority list. Consider these verses:
- Psalm 68:5 – Father to the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation
- Psalm 82:3 – Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
- Psalm 146:9 – The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless
- Exodus 22:22-23 – You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry
- 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.
- John 14:18 – I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
What does it look like for our church to visit orphans and widows in their affliction? We are prayerfully figuring that out. This is what we do know: there is a need and we are entering the fray because we bring with us the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the gospel of adoption into a real forever family.
We want to believe Jesus and love one another and that begins with loving those who are closest to us and loving those who are closest to God’s heart.