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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

The Foreigner, The Widow, The Orphan


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I found an older journal the other day and started reading some of my notes, I came across a sermon given by a visiting missionary, Jonathan Heppner. I love Jonathan’s sermons, they make me think and I learn something new every time.


This particular sermon was on Sodom and Gomorrah. He gave a much different sermon about why judgement was unleashed on these 2 cities than most of us have been taught. He challenged us at the end to go home and look up scripture for ourselves to see if what he said matched up. It did.


As we end this month of June, the month deemed “pride” month, Sodom and Gomorrah is a fitting theme.


First, let us look at the meaning according to Jonathan of idolatry. We have heard the word “idol” and we know that having an idol means placing something or someone before the place of God. We “idolize” something and that something usually has more power over our lives and brains than we think.


Here is Jonathan’s definition: The attempt to have a relationship with God so we can have the benefits of being connected to God, without having to be responsible for those we live around. As in the care of the oppressed, orphans, widows.


(Also see: James 1:27, Exodus 22:22, 1 John 3:17, Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:19, Psalm 68:5, Isaiah 1:17, Malachi 3:5, Psalm 82:3, Psalm 146:9)


It seems this is a very important subject to God, the foreigner, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed.


When I read Jonathan’s definition it strikes a “pang” in my gut, and I seriously have to ask myself, am I so selfish, so prideful that I only care to get the benefits of God and then live in such a way that I could care less about what God’s heart cares for…. The foreigner, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed?


Kind of like getting a ‘get out of hell free card’ and thumbing my nose at the rest of humanity, oblivious to how they are faring, while I sit comfortably in my pew or home. How rude, how selfish, how not like God.


This is the reason Sodom and Gomorrah received the judgement they did, they were not mindful of the foreigner, the orphan, the widow, the oppressed.


The story has foreigners (more than foreigners, as they were angels of God!) sitting in the public square at the close of the day. This is where travelers, foreigners sat when they came to a town and it was custom in the middle east that someone would go out and invite the travelers to come into their home and eat and stay with them. This was the way you did things back then.


Abraham’s nephew Lot, lived in Sodom and he, himself was a foreigner, when he saw these strangers sitting there he rushed out to invite them into his home for the evening, for safety. (full story Genesis 181-28)


Turns out the whole town was evil as they surrounded the house and demanded that Lot send out the 2 men (angels) so that they “could have their way with them”. What ensued was murder, physical and sexual abuse and a huge mighty miracle of God.


But it was the town’s lack of care for the stranger that got them judged. God cares more about how you, me, we, all treat strangers, foreigners, orphans and widows than some other things. Now I did not say God does not care about those other things, please do not misinterpret this, but the number of scriptures about how to treat these groups of people throughout the Bible is enormous. God cares deeply about these people and so should we.


What do we do with this? What do we do or think when we see the homeless person at the drive thru line up or walking up the sidewalk?


When we sit back and “judge” rather than love, we are in danger of lacking care for the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, the homeless, the addict, the poverty stricken, the broken homes, the fatherless.


When God states in the Bible that LOVE is the most important gift you could ever seek, He meant it. You see God is love. It is His nature, it is His Character, it is His purpose. (1 John 4:16)


He has given you His Holy Spirit to live inside of you so that you can also share in the concerns of His heart, for the foreigner, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the homeless, the addict, the poverty stricken, the broken homes, the fatherless……


You do not even need to try to drum up the compassion and concern – God gives it to you! He has given to you so that you may give it away, use it, steward it, spread it all over the place.


It is when we refuse to use the very gifts He gave us and ignore the very commands He spoke to us, that are for the good of others, that we should have a very good and healthy reminder of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. The fear and reverence of God is also as real as His love.


It is imperative that we understand that God hates sin, ALL sin, ours and theirs.


How do you fix an empty cup? You fill it.


By filling the cup with something, you take away the emptiness.


Did you fill it by concentrating and stewing over the fact that it was empty? No.


How did God fill an empty world? By taking the evil and the darkness away? No.


He filled the world by coming here from heaven, He filled it with His presence. He did not take away the problems or remove them. Salvation is not removing the world’s darkness. It is the presence of God, it is His light shining into the darkness.


When we concentrate on His presence, the darkness and evil fade away. We do not have to do a thing with evil and darkness, we simply have to double our focus on God, the light and then His light radiates through us.


Then as we walk throughout our area, we are the light in the darkness.


You cannot overcome sin by focusing on it. You will not ever cure loneliness by dwelling on it. We concentrate on the opposite: if in sorrow – we focus on joy; if in hate we need to focus on love; evil needs the presence of good and love to dispel it.


He filled your cup with His presence. He wants you to fill other peoples cups with His presence, to undertake to care for those less fortunate, those hurting, those helpless who cannot do it for themselves.


He wants us to stop judging and start loving. To do life….His way, bringing His light into the darkness.


I know of a Christian woman that gets a booth at psychic fairs, she walks right in and parks herself in the middle. What does she do there? She brings the light.


Jonathan Heppner and his family do this. They live on an island that is one of the worlds largest refugee camps. They see horrendous and what seem insurmountable struggles.


What do they do there? They bring the light.


They bring hope, love and light to a world that is so very dark and it seems to keep growing this darkness. What can you and I offer it? God’s light.


Shine on my friends, shine on.

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