Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So, I was rooting (mildly) for the Arizona Cardinals in last Sunday's Superbowl. What's more, I know a lot of folks who, if it's not their favorite team playing, will cheer for the team--or the athlete--that is not given much of a chance. Sure, we get excited about Olympic champions, but all the more if their's is a rags-to-riches tale. We enjoy stories--and movies (many of them, for some reason, set in Indiana)--in which the Cinderella team overcomes all odds to find success.

And what I want to suggest is that this is at odds with the tendencies of most people in most cultures throughout most of human history. That is, cultures from time immemorial have glorified the strong and the powerful, sometimes to the point of worship.

My further point is that it is in Judeo-Christianity that we find the foundation for this heart for the underdog. When Yahweh chose the nation of Israel to be His people, He made it clear that it was in part because they were a small and insignificant people. And He charged them with taking good care of the downtrodden, the widows, the orphans, the stranger, and the oppressed. Through the prophet Isaiah, God rebukes His people...
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. (Is. 1:16-17)
And this theme runs throughout the Scriptures, Old Testament and New. Jesus Himself says (in Matthew 25) that what will separate those who will enjoy eternal fellowship with the Father from those who will not is whether they fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, in short, had compassion on the "least of these."

In our age, God continues to call His people to act out that same compassion on His behalf to the least of these in our own communities and around the world. And His people are answering the call in amazing and creative ways. Overwhelmed by the grace by which He has reconciled us to Himself, we cannot but want that same reconciliation for others, particularly those who have no one else to care. Are you being caught up in God's grace and compassion in a way that changes lives? I pray that it is so; it's the most exciting game going!

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