Jeremiah 22:15-16: “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.”
This last week, as I have just been intentionally seeking Jesus and to know Him better, one of the things God has been reminding me of and making real to me is the fact the fact that Jesus was not born in a palace under pampered conditions. He was not born into a wealthy family. His “crib” was a feeding trough for animals (Luke 2:7). There wasn’t even a proper room in an inn available to Him at His birth. We are talking about the Son of God! God in human flesh! King of Kings, Lord of Lords! And then, during His earthly ministry, He once reminded someone: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20). Think of it! No one is greater than Him, more important than Him, more deserving than Him, had more of an impact than Him….yet He had no where He could call “His own.” He did not own a home. He traveled around constantly during His ministry. He did not have a wife. He did not have children. He really had nothing of earthly possession…and what He did have (His clothes) were taken from Him when He was being crucified (John 19:23). He knew what it was to have nothing and belong nowhere, even though He is everything and created all things! And we complain about our “rights” and “comfort.”
Earlier today, I watched a powerful video by Eric Ludy called: “Depraved Indifference.” Watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWHJ6-YhSYQ.
Later today, after this, a man showed up on our doorsteps. He had a dirty, old bike he was riding. He had dirty, old clothes on. He proceeded to softly tell me that he has been living in the woods for the past month. He had lost everything. No home. No job. He was hungry. He hadn’t showered in a month. He was wondering if I could help him…if I could even just give him a tent.
There are a million things that run through your mind in these situations. Some may be reasonable, some may not; but some were along these lines: Is he telling the truth? Is he on drugs, drunk? Is he a criminal? Is he dangerous? Is he trying to take advantage of me?
But you know what I most saw?
I saw Jesus.
And the verse I started with in this blog came to mind.
I took him out to eat…not at McDonald’s for a cheap meal…but Applebee’s for a better meal. He had never eaten there. He had not had chicken and rice and beans for a long time and that is what he most wanted. He smiled when thinking about it and seemed genuinely thankful for it. I noticed he had trouble reading the menu. It was overwhelming to him.
As we drove by a nearby farm where families were out with their kids picking out pumpkins…a place we had just been last week with our kids…he commented softly…”some people have a good life.” I could tell it was a life he had never known or not known for a long time. It was such an odd and different feeling seeing the same things through different eyes and a different life. A life I have never known, but he was very familiar with. My life was as foreign to him as his was to mine. But who knows? It could have been…could even be…my life under certain circumstances. He could be me, I could be him. I kept thinking…what if this was me? What if I was in his shoes?
As we talked I found out he had a daughter in Florida. He didn’t want to call her, because he didn’t want her to worry about him. He seemed proud of her. He showed me her picture, along with his grandson. However, he had trouble at first remembering his name when I asked what his name was. He seemed really embarrassed by that. He had never met him. His parents were dead. His siblings did not get along or have anything to do with him. I am sure there are reasons for that, but I didn’t feel the need to get into that today. He told me about a church he had gone to in Maryland and a 6 month program he was one week from graduating from before he “gave into temptation.” That was 10 years ago. He came back to NJ and now here he was reduced to having nothing but his bike, cell phone (with no more minutes) and clothes on his body. He was embarrassed about asking for help. I tried to encourage him that “God gives grace to humble” and that we would pray for God to help him (while really praying that God would help me know what to do!).
I bought him a few things at a store, a few snacks, cough drops for his cold, a toothbrush. I put him up in a hotel for the night while I search for a shelter for him to stay and hopefully get back on his feet. This kind of thing is not always convenient and it involves a personal cost. But I thought of the “Good Samaritan” story where the Samaritan paid for the man who had been “beat up” and “left for dead” to be taken care. It helped me remember that ministering to others does involve personal cost. Perhaps that is why we ignore and try to avoid as much as possible situations like this. That is why it is easier to just walk by like the priest and Levite in that story. After all they are busy with “Gods’ work.” And after all, I am a pastor, it’s Saturday, and I have to preach twice tomorrow!
But…this was so God. And I have been saying “God I want to know you.” I have had a hunger stirring more again lately to know Jesus more. I have been seeking Him. So…it was like Jesus showed up on the very doorsteps of my house…and said…”So…I heard you really want to know Me?”
Think back on the verse in Jeremiah. It’s the verse that went through my mind as I looked this man in the eyes on my doorstep. Jeremiah was rebuking a king who thought what made him a “king” was accumulating more for himself for all to see how great he was. Building a bigger and better palace for himself. Jeremiah comes along and says “you think this is what makes you a king?” Then he reminds him of the example of his own father who had a very different focus and heart. Jeremiah said: “Did not your father have food and drink? (God provided for his needs). He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.”
“Is that not what it means to know me?” It was as if God was saying to me today: “And this is what it takes to know me.” And you know what? With that mindset…it wasn’t a burden or inconvenience. It was a joy. A privilege. It was an opportunity to know God better and be with Him in a real way.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.