Stooping and Reaching…

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. – Galatians 6:2-3 (The Message)

They are starving throughout the world….  dying in places we have never heard of….  being persecuted in far away lands…. suffering in third world countries…. enslaved to addictions…. in the path of violence…. victims of war….  The oppressed are Asian and Latin and African and Middle Eastern… and they are American.  They are North Carolinians and Wilmingtonians.  They are strangers.  They are friends.  They are family.  They are us.

This Sunday many of us will gather in churches to worship and pray.  We will sing songs and hear sermons and we will hear about Jesus.  Some of us will sit on chairs and some on pews.  Congregations will come to little chapels, some to great halls, and some to homes.  We will wear fine suits and we will wear blue-jeans and t-shirts.  Some of our church services will be reverently traditional and some will be raucously celebratory.  But there will be one thing that all of our churches will share in common.  Someone, perhaps more than we might be comfortable with will come bearing burdens and pain.

They may not be noticeable.  Many of these people will wear a smile to cover their heartache.  They will be broken.  They will be lonely.  They will be betrayed.  They will be hungry.  They will be afraid.  They will be needy.  Perhaps there may even be some who are angry.  One thing is for certain….they will be there.  They are always there in our midst.  Problem is that far too often we are too busy to notice, or worse, we would rather not notice.

It is not necessary for most of us to board a plane and travel to distant countries to minister to those in need.  For most of us it will only be necessary to turn to the person sitting next to us in church.  What we need is not a call to the foreign field or a passport.  The call to care requires only that we open our eyes and see that sad expression (as brief and fleeting as it may be) on the face of the person standing right beside us.  It does not require a sermon from our lips.  Rather, it may only require a kind word…the gentlest greeting…an extended hand…a friendly smile.

Too busy for that?  Too involved?  Too good?  Don’t be deceived.  The person most in need of the love of Christ may be you.  Go ahead….. Stoop down…. Reach out!  It’s not as far as you may think.


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